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‘Brand New Subway’ challenges you to build a better NYC transit system

It’s the bane of every New Yorker’s existence — the subway. Seemingly perpetual delays, reroutings, and cramped cars have made getting around the Big Apple something of a nightmare. But now, rather than complaining to the MTA (good luck with that), you may be able to — or at least pretend to — do something about it. Meet Brand New Subway, a game that takes you out of the passenger seat and puts you into the driver’s position by allowing you to rebuild the subway system from the ground up. Because maybe then, we’ll have some appreciation for how difficult it really is to shuttle all those New Yorkers from borough to borough.

Think of it like SimCity: The game is based on a map of New York City, and you decide how to lay the lines. You can either ignore every plan that’s ever been made, or you can adjust existing lines as per your own preferences. Simply click on the map to build a station, and choose different lines from a panel on the side. You can build walking stations using the “Transfer” button, and when you think you’ve built the perfect public transportation system, the game will grade you based on ridership and cost.

The cool thing about the game is that it’ll automatically pull in data about your planned lines and stations — you’ll be able to check out population, jobs, transportation demand, taxes, and more. All these factors help determine how successful your final map is. You’ll receive a grade between an F and an A+, and while you may think you’ve got it all figured out, be warned: This isn’t as easy as it looks.

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“I kind of hope the game evokes how transit effects communities and helps users figure out what’s their personal connection to the system,” said Jason Wright, an electrical engineer from Crown Heights, who launched the game this weekend. “There’s an inherent fun in imaging this within the context of the real world,” he added.

So just how well is the actual MTA doing by Brand New Subway’s grading system? Well, apparently, by 2025, our subway system will be able to move 6.13 million people every weekday, and cost them $2.76 per ride. That gets the MTA a grade of an A-, which is not too shabby.

But of course, if you want to try your hand at city planning, check out the game here.