View Full Version : CTA Rail Line Colors - Any Meaning?
Tim R. Mortiss
10-10-2009, 12:44 PM
I'm old enough to remember when the CTA rail lines were all renamed with colors rather than proper names (presumably for riders so hopelessly illiterate that they can't read "Ravenswood" but can still recognize a brown stripe). But I do NOT remember how the colors were selected.
Purple makes sense, as the Purple line runs to Northwestern University. And I remember when the schoolchildren voted for Pink. But how about the others? Was there any rhyme or reason to the choices of Red, Brown, Green, Orange, Blue, and Yellow? Am I missing any?.......TRM
10-10-2009, 03:12 PM
Good question. I don't recall any discussion of this at the time. The purple = NU occurred to me also; as you may know the Red line in Boston is supposedly so called because it runs out to Cambridge, home of the Harvard Crimson. The other colors, no idea. I'll talk with the Master, maybe we'll call the CTA.
10-12-2009, 10:34 AM
The subway system just got colorized in Atlanta -- here's what MARTA says about it:
On October 1, 2009, MARTA will adopt a color code reference system for its rail lines, which will identify each rail line by a specific color rather than by end-of-line station.
It is common practice in the transit industry to identify rail lines by color. In the United States, transit agencies such as Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) all refer to their rail lines by color. We believe the change will minimize confusion for riders, especially those traveling on lines that split, new customers and the many visitors who use our rail service when they travel to the Atlanta region. Under the new system, main lines and deviating branches each will be identified by a specific color.
The change in the rail line identification system is part of MARTA’s overall graphic standards update. The new standards will be completely incorporated throughout the system over the next few years as vehicles and system equipment are routinely replaced and rehabilitated. Additionally, changes will be made to our written materials. MARTA officials hope the content revisions and graphic update will make our rail service simple and easy to understand.
Looks like they just picked contrasting colors at random, no rhyme or reason.
10-14-2009, 07:16 PM
I've wondered this myself, and good luck googling it. I would imagine that there was no particular logic- but that is just a guess.
I'll tell you what though, having the purple line and the brown line run on the same track in the same direction is bad for addlepated people like me. I confuse those colors with great regularity.
10-19-2009, 09:26 PM
My memory from talking to the guys involved, who first put colors on the (strikingly all-black) RTA map of 1977: The logic was fairly simple. Red and Blue were obvious choices for the main lines with downtown subways. Green for the third major line, which at the time was Lake-Dan Ryan. They chose Brown for Evanston and Purple for Ravenswood, a choice that would later be reversed by CTA in its first color map (1985). And the last clear-cut possibility, Orange for Skokie, which would be redeployed for the new Midway line in 1993.
C K Dexter Haven
10-30-2009, 08:51 AM
Ed was true to his promise, and Cecil has now addressed the history of the CTA color-schemes: http://chicago.straightdope.com/sdc20091029.php
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