Visualization of the Week: A day in the life of a bus line

Urban Data Challenge winners Adam Greenhall, Amelia Greenhall, and Jared McFarland visualized bus route activity for Zurich, San Francisco, and Geneva.

The Urban Data Challenge winners have been announced. The grand prize was awarded to the team behind the Dots on the Bus animated, interactive visualization — Adam Greenhall, Amelia Greenhall, and Jared McFarland.

The team culled public transportation data provided for the contest by Zurich, San Francisco, and Geneva from the week of October 1-7, 2012. According to the about pop-up on the visualization site, the data included “each bus, the time it arrived at each stop, and how many people got on and off (as counted by lasers), along with the lat/long of each stop and route.”

Users can click one of the three city names to pull up the corresponding local transit map. From there, hovering over a route will highlight the entire route, and clicking anywhere along the route will select it. The selected route is presented across the top, with 24/7 animation of the busses serving the route and the people — represented by dots — hopping on and off the bus. The days are on a drop down list on the top left and can be selected or allowed to run along with the animation time. The screenshot above shows activity on San Francisco’s 5 Fulton line at 1:26 pm on Monday.

The team explains the animation activity on their about pop-up:

“The time is scaled to real time — 24hrs takes is played back over approximately 3min. We kick off a bunch of d3 timers — one for every trip a bus takes along the line. Then, within each trip, more timers get kicked off to add the waiting passengers to each stop and to move the bus so it arrives at each stop at the proper time. The waiting passengers arrive at a random time between when the bus is a few stops away and when it arrives. The passengers who get off at that stop exit the bus and disperse.”

Users also can hover over the grey dots along the animated route — representing each bus stop — to pull up the stop’s cross streets and the corresponding stop location on the map. The following screenshot shows McAllister St. and Divisidero St., represented by a larger yellow dot near the center of the map:

The team won two round-trip tickets to one of the participating cities — Zurich, San Francisco, or Geneva.

More visualizations:

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