From 2009 to 2022, I was a creative leader at the MTA, the New York metro region’s public transportation agency. I held these full-time jobs while also making independent films on the side.
As MTA Senior Creative Director, I led a multidisciplinary team of two dozen content creators. Our goal was to make visual communications that helped riders better use and understand NYC’s transit network. Our work included marketing campaigns, signs, videos, maps, merchandise, and wayfinding design. This page highlights some of the work I led.
Safe Travels COVID-19 Campaign
Shortly after COVID-19 hit New York in March 2020, the city went into lockdown. Streets and offices emptied as most people stayed home, but the MTA had to keep running for the essential workers who needed it. Employing a now-iconic look and feel, the Safe Travels campaign encouraged mask use and respect for fellow transit riders with messaging that was clear and often playful. It’s said that New Yorkers never agree on anything, but at the height of the pandemic, mask compliance among subway riders was consistently over 90%.
- “The MTA’s Endearing Safe Travels Campaign” – AIGA Eye on Design, February 23, 2022
- “Design Champion: Safe Travels Campaign” – Big Picture, March 6, 2021
OMNY: The new way to pay for your transit ride
Introduced in 2019, OMNY is the MTA’s new fare payment system. This contactless “open-loop” payment system represented a radical improvement in functionality and convenience from the venerable MetroCard, which had been in use since 1993. Our ongoing multichannel campaign introduced the benefits of the system while teaching riders how to use it. Our in-house team also designed the OMNY fare card as well as the UX of the forthcoming OMNY fare vending machines.
- “This is the OMNY Card” – Curbed/New York Magazine, October 1, 2021
Reimagining MTA maps
Few today know that the current New York City subway map, in use since 1979, represents a print-era compromise that is no longer relevant in an age of digital maps and navigational aids. Beginning in 2019, I led a reimagining of the subway map that revisited Massimo Vignelli’s iconic 1972 diagram and expanded on its foundations. The resulting suite of new maps can be seen in a growing number of stations around the system and on the 42 St Shuttle trains.
- “MTA Tests New Subway Map” – The Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2021
- “See NYC’s Bold New Subway Map” – Fast Company, October 14, 2021
Real-time Digital Strip Maps
Beginning in 2018, a massive digital signage network was installed in MTA stations, trains, and buses. This network carries advertising as well as real-time transit service information on over 12,000 screens. To help subway riders better understand when the next train would arrive and where it would go, I designed a “real time strip map” for use on station platforms. The idea started as a sketch on my iPad in late 2018 and debuted to the public in test form just a few months later, thanks to the marvelous work of MTA’s in-house tech teams.
MTA Video Explainers
In 2009, I started MTA’s YouTube Channel and for its first few years, I was the sole content creator. The channel has grown since then but “explainer” content remains a mainstay. It was always a fun challenge to explain complicated, nerdy transit topics in an accessible, concise, and entertaining way for the general public. Below are a few of my favorite examples.
Welcome Back New York
As New York began emerging from the pandemic in 2021, we began a rolling campaign to encourage transit ridership. Messages appeared throughout the tri-state metropolitan region, with a special emphasis on reaching those who had abandoned pubic transit in favor of driving.