I was invited to present a wide variety of data visualizations featured on the blog at a recent meeting of transportation techies.
I had the honor of being invited to present at the 2nd meeting of the Transportation Techies Meetup group, Metro Hack Night on January 2, 2014. I used this opportunity to illustrate some of the data visualizations I’ve developed using Metro data and talk a bit about the technology behind them.
On-Street Bike Parking in Buenos Aires. Photo by the author.
I spotted this cool on-street bike rack in the trendy Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. It says “One car = ten bikes”. It’s a very cool, visual way of providing bicycle parking in a neighborhood with narrow sidewalks and heavy pedestrian activity that also educates the driving public on the efficiency of travel by bicycle and the need for on-street bike infrastructure.
Please try out our draft Greenhouse Gas Calculator, which asks for a starting and ending address, and then routes your trip via automobile and transit and displays the route and GHG emissions differences.* We are soft-launching this tool to crowd-source the quality assurance process and assess its usefulness.
What other features would you like to see? Did the tool accurately portray your travel choices? What is the difference in GHGs between driving and transit for your most frequent trip?
* Note on GHG calculations: the tool uses the Google Directions API to route your trip using both automobile and transit. The Google Directions API response includes each step of the journey, including mode and distance. We apply standard rates of GHG emissions per mile to the different modes used. As an added bonus, if your transit trip includes walking, we toss in an estimate of the calories you burned too!
A handful of end-of-line stations’ parking facilities are doing the lion’s share of extending the reach of Metro across the region, while parking at most other stations primarily serves nearby residents.
Parking at rail stations is traditionally thought to extend the geographic reach of transit in the region, by giving longer-distance commuters a way to access a rail station. Based on an analysis of Metro parking customers’ origins, a handful of large end-of-line Metro parking facilities perform this function, but most Metrorail parking facilities do not. Nine Metrorail stations are capturing 70 percent of all customers who drive from more than three miles to park-and-ride, while the 26 other Metro parking facilities primarily serve the surrounding neighborhoods.
Our map of parking customers’ origins showed how far Metro’s reach extends across the region. Now, this map shows the dominant station among Park & Ride customers, by half square-mile, for a typical weekday:
Map of dominant station of Park & Ride customers, highlighting each station’s “catchment area.”
Areas where there is no clear primary station are shaded gray: for example, the dividing line between Southern Ave. and Branch Ave. stations. The dominant station is shown, regardless of how many Park & Ride customers there are for a square. There is some noise in this data, but two “flavors” of parking emerge: Read more…
Metro planning staff have been working to showcase Metro data in new and unique ways. We recently posted a visualization in a calendar format that displayed 9 years of rail ridership in one graphic. We are currently working on animations of ridership data as well. Below is our first volley into that arena, a visualization of one day’s worth of station-level activity in 15-minute intervals.
Before hitting play, please note the following:
The video is available in high definition (720p), which is the recommended viewing resolution.
The dots are sized according to total station volume (entries plus exits) per 15-minute interval.
The color of the dot represents what percent of the volume is entries vs exits. Magenta dots are 100% exits, blue dots are 100% entries, and purple dots are 50/50, with other colors representing ratios between these three.
The visualization is of data from April 10, 2013, which hit the 4th highest ridership mark that day. A combination of cherry blossom peak bloom and two sporting events ratcheted ridership up to 871,000 for the day, compared to an average weekday ridership of around 750,000. Note the high level of activity at the Smithsonian station all day long, and big dots that grow and shrink as the sports games begin and then end near Gallery Place and Navy Yard-Ballpark stations.
What other unique activity can you spot in this animation? What other types of animations of Metrorail and Metrobus would be informative?
One-third of Metro parking customers drive from less than three miles to their station. But Metro’s importance can also be seen far across the greater Washington region, in this new visualization of parking customer’s origins.
Most Metrorail parking facilities primarily serve the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the station: 64%55% of parking customers come from less than five miles away, and 47%35% come from less than three miles away. However, some riders come from much farther away, particularly to end-of-line stations near major highways, such as Greenbelt, New Carrollton, and Vienna.
With approximately 60,000 parking spaces, Metro is one of the region’s largest parking operators. Our 2012 Metrorail Passenger Survey provides good insight into the travel patterns of rail customers, including those who drove and parked at any of Metro’s 35 stations offering daily parking. These parking customers represent around 15% of all rail trips on a typical weekday.
Metro planning staff understand that a picture is worth at least a thousand words, and often more. (And that a video is worth 1000 * 30 words per second.) As such, we are always looking to increase our ability to create compelling graphs, charts and video simulations.
Sample image of the Metrorail Ridership Visualization. Click the image to open the viz in a new window.
Each year is a horizontal stripe, sectioned off into months that go across. Both years and months are labeled.
The days within each month are transposed, so start at the left and read down, then move right. In the sample image, the leftmost column of January 2004 is the first week, with Thursday January 1 being the darkest red square. A graphical example is also displayed in the legend at the top of the visualization.
Each day is colored according to the ridership on that day, with darkest red being the smallest range (0 to 99,999) and the darkest green being the highest range (greater than 1,000,000).
If you move your mouse pointer over any individual day, a small “tool tip” appears showing the date and the ridership for that day, rounded to the nearest 1,000.
Metro regularly exports all of the data from our Trip Planner into a separate GTFS file which we share with COG/TPB for updating regional transit schedules in their travel demand model. We are working to make this file publicly available. In the mean time, we were able to share it with STLTransit who kindly created the updated fully regional visualization of Washington area transit, embedded above.
As with last time, this visualization is best viewed full-screen and in HD mode.
Some interesting things to note:
Frederick County TransIT service use of timed transfers (or pulse points) at transit centers is very noticeable.
MARC and VRE commuter rail are illustrated as white tadpoles, not to be confused with the colored tadpoles representing Metrorail service.
The expansiveness of the commuter rail network becomes very apparent, as those white tadpoles shoot towards the edges of the map to the northeast, northwest and south.
STLTransit apparently cranks out one or two visualizations of a city or regional transit system every few days. Check out their YouTube channel and subscribe.
A few weeks ago we posted a video visualization of one day’s worth of Metrorail, Metrobus and Circulator created by STLTransit. Upon first seeing this video, contacted them to thank them for their work and also asked whether the Metrorail could be made to stand out more in the video, to differentiate it from Metrobus and Circulator. This morning, I received a link the updated video embedded below, a great improvement. Metrorail trains are now shown as “tadpoles” instead of dots, which allows them to be more visible and better represents the carrying capacity of a train (800+ people) versus a bus (60+). Check it out.
This great video shows one day’s worth of Metrorail, Metrobus and DC Circulator moving across the region.Metrobus and Circulator are both shown as white dots, while the Metrorail dots are keyed to line color.
The video should be viewed in full screen mode in order to really see Metrorail.