Title text: About one in three North American subway stops are in NYC.
- The xkcd page links to a much larger version, which has another text added:
For the pedantic rail enthusiasts, the definition of a subway used here is, with some caveats, "a network containing high capacity grade-separated passenger rail transit lines which run frequently, serve an urban core, and are underground or elevated for at least part of their downtown route." For the rest of you, the definition is "an underground train in a city."
The comic shows the maps of all North American subway networks. In reality, none of these systems are interconnected, but in the diagram subways from different cities that have the same color on the official subway map have whimsically named connections, such as the "Ohio-California Tunnel" connecting the Green Lines of Cleveland and Los Angeles, or the "Rocky Mountain Tunnel" connecting the Blue Lines of Chicago and San Francisco. Vancouver and San Francisco are connected through a station called Richmond, which appears to double as Richmond, British Columbia and Richmond, California. The "Springfield Monorail" is fictional, from the animated series The Simpsons (see Marge vs. the Monorail), but its approximate location on this map would suggest the Seattle Monorail, or perhaps Springfield, Oregon, which Matt Groening revealed was the inspiration for the Simpsons' hometown.
The Urban Mass Transit Systems of North America map (right) created by Yale Professor Bill Rankin on his website Radical Cartography in 2006 presents all of the subway systems in North America at the same scale using geographic, instead of topological, layout. The networks on xkcd's map are displayed with absolutely no consideration to geographic position, in order to connect like-colored routes together. While Vancouver is the most North-West, Mexico City being the most South, and San Francisco the most west, distances are not accurate (in reality, Vancouver is closer to Chicago than to Toronto for example) and cities are often arranged in the wrong direction from one another:
- San Francisco is shown directly west of Toronto - in reality west southwest
- Boston is shown directly north of New York City and just slightly to the west - in reality east northeast
- Atlanta is shown west southwest of Miami - it is actually north northwest
- Atlanta is shown northwest of Mexico City - it is actually northeast
- Atlanta is shown slightly east of being south of Los Angeles - it is actually just slightly north of being directly east
The map's design is modeled after the system map of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston where Randall is from.
- The Canada Line and the Expo Line are shown as the same color; SkyTrain's official maps depict them with light blue and dark blue respectively.
- Richmond, B.C., is the name of the city where the southernmost terminus of the Canada Line is located, and shares its name with Richmond, California (see San Francisco section).
- The "Green Line Extension to Canada" references the actual project to extend the Green Line into Medford, north of Boston, which was completed in 2022.
- The "Ashmont–Manhattan High-Speed Line" shown as connecting Boston's Red Line to New York City's 1 train is a play on the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line in Boston.
- The renamed Red Line stops Skinflower and Bonevine are plays on the actual name of the Red Line's terminus, Braintree.
- The Orange Line terminates at Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain. It is connected to New York's IND Concourse Line, but unfortunately despite its ambiguous appearance on the map this does not actually through-run to the IND Queens Boulevard Line with its Forest Hills and Jamaica stations.
- Both Muni and BART are depicted in San Francisco's map and are completely separate systems, although the map gives the impression that trains interline between the two. Non-wheelchair-accessible stops on Muni lines are omitted.
- Richmond is the name of the city where the northern terminus of the Richmond–Fremont and the Richmond–Daly City/Millbrae BART lines are located, and shares its name with Richmond, British Columbia (see Vancouver section).
- "Sunnydale" is the actual name of the terminus of the Muni T Third Street line, not to be confused with the city where Buffy the Vampire Slayer is set, nor the very real city of Sunnyvale, located approximately at the location shown, some 40 miles Southeast of San Francisco.
- The Gold Line and the Orange Line are shown with swapped colors.
- The Orange Line is the only bus rapid transit (BRT) line to be shown on the map. LA Metro also operates a second BRT line, the Silver Line, which is not shown.
New York City
- The New York City Subway, Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH), and the single line of the Staten Island Railway (with a connection via the Staten Island Ferry) are shown.
- Jamaica is the name of the neighborhood in Queens where the E, F, and J/Z trains terminate. Kingston is the capital and largest city in the country of Jamaica.
- The actual G train is notorious for unreliable service, hence the "Random Service" notation.
- The "Robert Moses High-Speed Line" refers to the NYC urban planner Robert Moses, who was one of the most influential planners in supporting cars over all public transport, creating the car-dependent New York metropolitan area.
- Both SEPTA subway lines, a portion of the SEPTA Subway–Surface Trolley Lines, and the PATCO Speedline are shown.
- "Trolley Rt. 10 to California" is a play on the actual Route 10 trolley.
- The "Graveyard for passengers killed by closing doors" refers to the warning played in the Washington DC Metro system advising passengers that the subway doors are "not like elevator doors" and will close on your limbs or belongings rather than opening when contact with an object is detected.
- The "Morgantown, WV Automated Line" references the Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit system, which was built in 1975 as a personal rapid transit demonstrator and serves the three campuses of West Virginia University.
- Greenbelt is the northern terminus of the Washington Metro's Green and Yellow lines, hence the Green line being depicted as forming a belt.
- This comic was made before the Silver line was constructed, so it does not appear in the comic.
- The "Caribbean Metromover" references the Miami Metromover, a people mover in downtown Miami (not shown on the map.)
- The airport logo for Miami International Airport (MIA) is replaced with a paper airplane.
- The "Puerto Rico Submarine" that connects the Red Lines of San Juan and New York refers to the fact that San Juan is on an island, namely Puerto Rico.
- The "Mona Tunnel" that connects the Red Lines of San Juan and Santo Domingo may refer to the island of Mona, which lies between Puerto Rico and Hispaniola.
- The "Chicxulub Tunnel" that connects the Red Lines of Santo Domingo and Monterey refers to the 65-million-year-old Chicxulub crater, which lies roughly between the two cities.
Official subway maps
- Atlanta - http://www.itsmarta.com/rail-schedules-or-route.aspx
- Baltimore (MTA Maryland) - http://mta.maryland.gov/sites/default/files/metro-subway.jpg
- Boston (MBTA) - http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/subway/
- Chicago (CTA) - http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/maps/P19_2012_CTA_Rail_Map.pdf
- Cleveland - http://www.riderta.com/pdf/maps/System_Map_Rapid_Connect.pdf
- Los Angeles (LACMTA) - http://www.metro.net/riding_metro/maps/images/rail_map.gif
- Mexico City - http://www.metro.df.gob.mx/imagenes/red/redinternet.pdf
- Montreal - http://www.stm.info/english/metro/images/plan-metro.jpg
- New York City (MTA) - http://www.mta.info/maps/submap.html
- New York City (PATH) - http://www.panynj.gov/path/maps.html
- Philadelphia (SEPTA and PATCO) - http://www.septa.org/maps/system/index.html
- San Francisco (BART) - http://www.bart.gov/images/global/system-map.gif
- San Francisco (MUNI) - https://www.sfmta.com/maps/muni-metro-map
- Toronto (TTC) - https://www.tourbytransit.com/toronto/public-transit/subway
- Vancouver - http://mapa-metro.com/mapas/Vancouver/mapa-metro-vancouver.png
- Washington (WMATA) - http://wmata.com/rail/maps/map.cfm
Not all cities with a subway are shown on the map. Missing from the map:
- Pittsburgh (Port Authority of Allegheny County) has a light rail subway tunnel, called The T, in the downtown area. The subway opened in 1985, which is before this comic was published. 
- Subways of North America
- [A subway-line style (bold colored, 45-degree aligned lines with white bars indicating stations) map has been constructed by combining and linking various parts of the subway maps from many different cities, as if all of the transit systems were connected directly. The cities include (from top to bottom, left to right) Vancouver, Montreal, San Francisco, Toronto, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Miami, Atlanta, Monterrey, San Juan, Santo Domingo, and Mexico City.]
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