Rochester Subway Map

Rochester Access Lines is a theoretical subway system in Rochester, NY that would give Rochester residents access to necessities efficiently and safely.

Role: Researcher + Visual Designer

Duration: September 2018 - October 2018

Team: 10+ Researchers + Visual Designers

Client: Rochester Institute of Technology | Project


Over 10 designers and researchers set out to re-create the neglected Rochester, NY Subway System. Everyone did the initial research and pooled it together. We then individually took our own paths to create the best imaginable replacement for the City of Rochester's Subway System.


Rochester, NY is lacking a reliable, efficient, affordable, and safe public transportation system to access necessities, while people are constantly looking for ways to get around on a budget and a schedule.


Users are people who lack access to a car or a reliable mode of transportation. These people tend to be students, low-income, disabled, and/or in single-parent households.


The goal is to revitalize the subway system in Rochester and create a system that gives people access to necessities affordably and efficiently.


Through analyzing user research, we identified which needs aren't being met by the current public transportation system, and how we can meet those needs and provide residents a higher quality of life.

SURVEY QUESTIONS (in-person survey)

  1. Where do users need to go?
  2. Where do users live?
  3. Where do users go for entertainment, not out of need?
  4. Where do users travel to daily?
  5. Where do users go occasionally? Why occasionally?
  6. What kind of transportation do users have access to?
  7. What isn't working with their current transportation?
  8. How much money do they have budgeted for transportation?
  9. What can they afford for transportation?
  10. Do they own a car?
  11. Do they have access to someone with a car?
  12. Is their access to a car limited?
  13. How tight is their time schedule?
  14. Do they bring children on public transit?
  15. Do their children use public transportation alone?
  16. What kind of public transportation are they willing to use?
  17. If they could imagine a perfect public transit system in Rochester, what would it look like?


  1. Most target users live in lower-cost neighborhoods within the City of Rochester, with the exception of students living near universities located in the suburbs.
  2. Users need to travel to multiple places a day.
  3. The current bus system is unreliable, doesn't run often enough, doesn't go to where they need, doesn't get them anywhere fast enough, and costs too much.
  4. Users travel to places that are convenient due to proximity, travel times, and open hours, rather than going to the place that fits their holistic needs.
  5. Users travel mostly within the city and close suburbs due to convenience.
  6. Users would travel to places with better amenities if they could efficiently get there.
  7. Users bring children on public transportation, and their children also know how to use it on their own.
  8. Most users only have limited access to cars and they cannot afford driving services (taxi, Lyft, Uber, etc).
  9. Users do not travel to many places for entertainment other than to friends' houses due to finances and convenience. 


Findings show that people's basic needs aren't being met through the current public transportation system. If their basic needs aren't being met, how can they expect to use the transportation to take them to places to enjoy themselves? Their quality of life could be dramatically improved by creating an efficient and affordable system that gives them access to amenities that the higher-income neighborhoods and people have access to. Users should have access to a system that takes them to the resources that they deserve, not the ones that they are stuck with because an inefficient system is serving them.


  1. I took down all of the places listed in every neighborhood that provides necessities and amenities that most users enjoy frequenting. These places are where users need to go for prescriptions, medical care, food, pet food, school, work, toiletries, etc. These are also places that users enjoy going to for coffee, meeting a friend, exploring, or visiting a park. I included both necessities and amenities in the same category as a necessity on the map because they are both needed for a higher quality of life that users deserve.
  2. I categorized, color-coded, and mapped all of the locations using Google Maps. By doing this I could see where everything was in proximity to each other. Looking at the proximity I was then able to figure out how time and convenience could be mapped into the equation for maximum efficiency and quality of life.
  3. I found that the easiest way for users to have access to further locations and closer locations efficiently was through the path that the subway takes. The shorter the paths the better, and the paths can be shorter when users have more access to connections, getting rid of parts of the trip they do not need to take. The more paths, the more options, the more efficient the trips, the more comprehensive the system. However, too many paths can cause too much confusion and diminish the system's purpose; there needs to be a balance.
  4. I landed on a pattern of a flower for the subway to take, coincidentally, Rochester is the Flower City. The circular shapes running through the flower maximizes the flow between the three major areas of the Rochester; center, general, and outskirts. All necessities and a variety of amenities are available in all three areas. The multiple connections give people ways to access other mini-systems (petals or circles) to get reach different amenities, if they so desire.


  1. Choosing the necessities that were in close proximity to one another was difficult because many of the options were similar in what they could offer to the user. I found that what I chose on one petal, the neighboring petal would offer its similar rival so there would be equivalent and adjacent options.
  2. Figuring out logistics of the train like car times, and actual construction was something I had no background in to make quick decisions. Working for an expert in urban planning and public transportation would be helpful in seeing if the system would be viable for the city.


  1. People in Rochester are actually in need of a functioning system, but for the city it seems like a passive problem- people are figuring out how to make-do without a proper transportation system in place.
  2. Rochester is an example of what many mid-sized cities are facing in the US. A lot of these cities don't have enough infrastructure or money to create a system that could better people's quality of life.
  3. Designing with social impacts in mind, whether large and systematic or individualistic and more psychological, is a really rewarding experience. Through solving problems I'm given the chance to impact lives.

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