Yeah yeah yeah Vignelli blah blah blah Michael Hertz fuh fuh fuh every illustrator jockey ever, but my carto heart belongs to NYCT's bus maps. On first read, it's their completely insane energy that draws me in: manic tangles of color snaking over desaturated streets, every label fighting a losing battle with its neighbor.
Also making one of these is an order of magnitude more difficult than drawing a train map. Subway routes may be abstracted since riders need only know how to get from train A → train B at the white dots; they don't need to know how to navigate, only how to match the schematic with the signs flicking past. And they're on their damn own once they hit sunlight.
Bus mappers, however, can't throw basic navigation out the window. The conveyances are bound to roads, and so one can't grievously distort their routes. Knowing the B24 line intersects the Q60's doesn't mean dick if Queens Boulevard isn't also marked, since the riders "here I am" cues are street signs. This limited license to screw with space makes for some crowded rainbow messes, but even the most giga-dense segments of these maps are legible. This is a testament to the designers' skill and fastidiousness. They spun transit wool into variegated threads of gold, and I salute them here.