Joining Transit!

After more than 7 years as a Happiness Engineer / Happiness Rocketeer at Automattic (the company behind, the Jetpack plugin, the Akismet service, and many more), I am moving on to a new role as Project Manager at Transit!

At Automattic, I have been privileged to be part of the mission of Democratizing Publishing; I was also lucky to travel the world. One thing that I always tried to do every time I could (Paris, Buenos Aires, Madrid, etc) was to take public transportation (especially metros!). And my love of public transportation eventually led me to creating the Transit Mapping Symposium (I’m still sad that we had to cancel this year’s edition, but we’ll try again at a later date). So, it seemed only natural that my next move is to something related to that passion. Hence, Transit! It’s the best app out there for trip planning on public transit and other mobility modes around the world.

Even though I’ve been working from home during my time at Automattic, I’ve still used Transit every chance I got. I’ve been a fan of the app ever since I read this 2016 post on how they generate their maps. I try to use their GO function as often as I can; I hope to improve my standings with time!


My GO stats

Transit’s co-founder, Sam Vermette, was kind enough to be our opening speaker in the inaugural edition of the Symposium, and I’ve been in touch with the people there ever since. I guess it was only a matter of time before something like this would happen!

I’ve made some very dear friends at Automattic, but the great thing about working for a company that’s distributed around the world is that now, I’ll have people to visit, no matter where my new role takes me!

I’ll miss my friends in the global WordPress community, but greater and better public transportation and active transportation (also known as active mobility) are sorely needed to fight against climate change; I’m very happy that I’ll be doing my bit to make the experience better and to help encourage people to use those modes of transportation more.

And now, with the crisis and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 virus (see here the drastic drops in app usage everywhere, a proxy for ridership), I’m even more eager to pitch in and help in any way I can.


Madrid Metro Map

This week I got a nice surprise in the mail:

Madrid Metro Map

This came from the best HR director there is, @loriloo. Thanks Lori for being so thoughtful!!  No wonder her actual title is Happiness (w)Rangler!

Coincidentally, I saw this tweet earlier today:

A Radial version of the same official map (warning: large PDF file). Like he explains in the post, the map author was partly inspired by the radial maps of Max Roberts (I especially admire his Paris map, I find it soooo much easier to trace the path of individual lines on it compared to the official map). But back to Madrid!

I definitely agree with @transitmap‘s rating of this map, it’s really a great piece. I love, love, love how Sol station is right in the middle of the map; the Sun around which all planets (stations) revolve. I’m also particularly fascinated by the circular Line 12; how busy does Puerta del Sur get, I wonder?

I’d love to go to Madrid (and Barcelona) one day, if only to ride on their metros!

Mass Transit T-Shirts

A couple of weeks ago, I had a Twitter conversation with a fellow Mass Transit geek about maps on t-shirts. It all started with this tweet:

Don’t those shirts look awesome?

Sara kindly shared with me a few links to other transit-themed shirts that she’d found online:

There are also lots of places where you can find unofficial shirts. Sadly, Mexico City and Montreal do not have official merchandise, but it’s easy enough to find cheap t-shirts in Mexico City.

I think I need to augment my metro map collection with t-shirts, just like Sara. Do you have any links to official merchandise stores? If so, share them in the comments!


Sara also has metro map mugs!


I’ve always loved maps. As a kid, I waited excitedly for the National Geographic magazines, hoping that this would be one of the lucky months with a beautiful double-sided highly-detailed map. I’d pore over every feature of the map, looking for any oddities in the route a road took, for example, or what I considered to be strange naming conventions (West Virginia and Virginia? Baja California and Baja California Sur?). I’d try to imagine myself living in that location, and how the geography of it would affect my daily life. How would I get to school? Where would I play with my friends?

That fascination and imagination continues to this day when I look at maps. I am fascinated by enclaves, exclaves, and any other -claves you can think of. The quirks of human history and geography, laid down on a map with different splashes of colour. I try to imagine what it’s like to live in the various exclaves in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Are they cut off from their families and friends?

My love of maps evolved, however. As is well known, I am an admirer of public transit maps, especially metro maps. Why? At its core, the fascination is for the same reason. How do people go to school, to work, to play, to shop, every day in their city? Which stops are the busiest, and which are the quietest, and why? Beyond that, it’s also because the maps bestow a certain order on the organized chaos that is any modern city. No need to navigate traffic, or get lost by taking a wrong turn. You look at the map, you find your starting point, and you take the shortest route to your destination. Of course, in the larger cities (Mexico, New York, Moscow, Japan) the systems are quite complex and the shortest route may not be so obvious; but still, taking the metro is much, much easier than driving in an unknown city.

Last year, I read a book by Ken Jennings, who holds the record of the longest win streak on Jeopardy!, called Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonksand I was pleasantly surprised that I’m not the only person with this “affliction”; I nodded my head in vigorous agreement many times while reading it, saying “That’s me! That’s me!” while the cats stared curiously.

And then there are metro maps. In many cities, the metro/subway/tube is almost a symbol of the city itself. When I think of the world’s great public transit systems, I think of Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Mexico City, Madrid, Barcelona, and of course, my home city’s system, Montréal. And oddly enough, I am not the only one who thinks like this. There are many other people out there who are as fascinated by metro maps as I am. Take a look at this site, for example, as a recent one I found. And of course, the classic UrbanRail.Net. And then there’s the well-known book, Transit Maps of the World.

To finish off this exploration of maps, here are a few interesting videos:

Weird choice of music on this next one: