Posts Tagged ‘visualization’

PlanItMetro at Metro Hack Night

January 23rd, 2014 Comments off

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.

The first was the the visualization of 9 years worth of rail ridership data.  This visualization was created in D3 (“data driven documents”) using code originally developed by “mbostock” posted on the D3 examples page.  D3 is a javascript library that allows the creation of really powerful and interactive visualizations.  The downside of D3, as I noted, is that the code itself can be confusing and hard to follow.   So much of learning a new coding language is looking at what others have done and learning from it.  D3’s simplified notation makes it really hard for me to follow.  (NOTE: this visualization has recently been updated to include daily Metrorail ridership for all of 2013.)

The second was the visualization of one day of Metrorail station activity.     This video was created using Processing, a Java-based visualization tool that takes care of a lot of the coding “grunt work” and allows a programmer to focus on the data and the visualization.  I really enjoy Java so I took the opportunity this project provided to add a few flourishes such as a clock face and “sunrise” and “sunset.”  Read more…

Categories: Engage Tags: , ,

On-Street Bike Parking in Buenos Aires

December 16th, 2013 3 comments

On-Street Bike Parking in Buenos Aires

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.

Metro’s planners recognize that bike parking is a really efficient use of space and a cost-effective way for us to provide alternatives for how our riders get to our stations.  Read more about Metro’s bike parking efforts on PlanItMetro.

Editor’s note: we have been made aware that this bike rack design is very similar to or perhaps based on a bike rack design by a company called Cyclehoop.  Congrats to Cyclehoop for such an innovative and educational design.

Draft Greenhouse Gas Calculator for Review

October 28th, 2013 Comments off

Metro requests feedback on draft Greenhouse Gas (GHG) calculator.

As part of the 40 Days of Momentum, a recent blog post the importance of Metro to the region, including greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions reductions.   Now it is your turn to look up your share of those GHG reductions.

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.

Launch the GHG Emissions Savings Calculator!

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!

Metro’s Two Flavors of Parking

September 4th, 2013 4 comments

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"

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…

Visualization of Metrorail Station Activity

July 19th, 2013 Comments off

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:

  1. The video is available in high definition (720p), which is the recommended viewing resolution.
  2. The dots are sized according to total station volume (entries plus exits) per 15-minute interval.
  3. 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?

A zip file containing the base data for this animation is available for download:  Metrorail Station Activity at 15-Minute Intervals, April 10 2013

Special thanks to Michael Schade at Mobility Lab for hosting the recent Data Visualization Hack Day and guiding me through some of the tricks and tips.  Check out his lesson plan for animating data using Processing.


Where Do Parking Customers Come From?

June 28th, 2013 6 comments

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.


Read more…

Categories: Engage Tags: , ,

Visualization of 9 Years of Metrorail Ridership

June 4th, 2013 12 comments

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.

Metro planning staff recently attended a Mobility Lab Hack Day, where transit planners and data geeks intersected to share ideas and techniques for visualization of the volumes of data being made available by operators around the region.  One of the visualization tools discussed was D3, a javascript library for creating “data-driven documents.”  One of the online examples is for a calendar view that displays stock market data.

Metro planning staff adapted this code to create a visualization of Metrorail ridership data from 2004 to the present.  (Link opens in new window.) Here’s how it works:

  • 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.

Read more…

Categories: Engage Tags: , , ,

One Day of Washington Region Transit

February 11th, 2013 1 comment

Recently we showed you a visualization of Metrorail, Metrobus and Circulator transit created by a STLTransit.  The developer had created the previous visualization from the GTFS file available from the WMATA developers resources page.

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.

Categories: Engage Tags: , , ,

Chart of the Week: Updated Visualization of Metro and Circulator

December 11th, 2012 Comments off

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.

It looks best in HD mode full-screen.

Chart of the Week: Visualize One Day of Metro and Circulator

November 19th, 2012 3 comments

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.

This video was created using the data from the Metro GTFS data feed by STLTransit, who have made similar videos for a variety of other cities.