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Toronto!

Big news!

I’ve just accepted an offer from the University of Toronto, where I’ll be starting this fall in the urban planning PhD program and studying there under the tutelage of one Dr. Steven Farber. (Incidentally, he’s the one who, over the winter, clued me in to the TTC’s real-time data feed, which is the actual reason I’ve been looking at the TTC so much here lately.)

So… at some point over the summer, I’ll be packing all of my things and crossing the border, that other side whereon I project to live for the next four years, a Canadian1.

In a causally unrelated, though certainly correlated and fortuitous movement, my current adviser, Dr. Michael Widener will also be starting there in the fall as a professor in the geography department, in which happens to be housed the planning program. Moving buddies! :-D

I live as ever by the creed, “WWJJD”?2

Show 2 footnotes

  1. …student visa holder
  2. What Would Jane Jacobs Do? Evidence suggests that she would move to Toronto, for in fact she did.
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Posted in: Events
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Animapping GTFS

Thinking about it, it’s actually kind of odd that I hadn’t tried animating GTFS data before. I certainly wouldn’t be the first to have tried it.

The videos above are pretty simple. The stops are clustered into a reduced number of nodes and the system is simplified into a graph. Edges are drawn with thickness according to the number of trips scheduled for each frame. Each frame is a 15 minute span and with 10 frames per second we traverse a three-day period in ~29 seconds. The three days are the distinct service patterns, weekday, Saturday and Sunday.

Color! I need to improve the color foremost among many things, but here the color is white where schedule padding is minimal, and saturated where maximal. Since the padding values as I’ve calculated them here have a strong positive skew, the above video uses the square root of the actual value for the coloring. The two videos below try a linear and a log2 scale in that order.

Padding is calculated as ( the difference between the fastest scheduled time for a segment and the actual scheduled time ) divided by the straightline length of the edge.  This gives me something like the amount of schedule padding added to the schedule per KM, roughly a metric for anticipated congestion. It’s (currently at least) normalized by the edge length rather than actual travel distance  to maintain a proportional visual emphasis for the graph representation.

Dear lord this was a technical post. Here’s a fun little thing to look for though: turn the videos up to 1080p, and you can start to see what looks like peristalsis in the busier *ahem* corridors.

Also interesting to note is the absence of the subways. Because the buses make so many connections to the subways, you can clearly see when and where they are operating. Did you notice the two big lines that seem to spring up in the late hours? My guess, without looking, is that these are parallel bus substitutes for the subways after they stop running. Once the subways start running, those corridors become conspicuous by their emptiness.

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Posted in: Analysis | Maps
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GIF of the day

Just another way of looking at speed distributions. This shows the distribution of observed speeds across several thousand route segments by percentile of the speeds on each segment. The animation changes as we’re shown different parts of the speed distribution on each segment.

relative speed distributions on route segmentsNot totally sure if it’s useful yet, but it is kind of pretty.

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Posted in: Data
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Average vs Scheduled Speeds

Some news from the thesis front:

I think I’ve finally perfected my method for linking real-time data with scheduled stops. This is a comparison of the average (weekly) scheduled speeds to the observed average speed for each stop->stop segment. Results that look roughly as expected are what we all hope for.

TTC - differences in observed and scheduled speeds

Note that each classification is broken into eight equal sized quantiles

There is a lot of information in that little gif! More than I can explain here. More to come…

Higher resolution here by the way. It’s interesting to look at even if you don’t know Toronto. Also, the line widths are determined by the number of trips scheduled for each segment.

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Posted in: Data | Maps | Method
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A Moment in Transit

Just a little update on and reminder of an earlier post:

Come on down to the Macaron Bar tonight for Final Friday! My friend Ivan and I are having our first little gallery show! It’s a collaborative project, mapping out the abstract space defined by the ghostlike threads of 300+ transit GPS transponders as they trace their way around the city for a single day.

Transit real-time prints

A quick and dirty cell-phone capture of a really nice looking piece.

Some of the smaller pieces start at $20 and could make a lovely little souvenir. We hope you’ll come by tonight (and I also strongly recommend the Minumentals show at the AAC tonight [and their open bar]), but the pieces should also be hanging for the next few weeks, so you can come by later if you don’t make it.

Here is the faceberk event. Yay art!

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Posted in: Design | Events
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Constraint

I had an unusually clear thought the other day when a friend of mine asked my opinion, late and rhetorically: “How do we get people out of their cars? Free them from their chains!”

It’s always nice to see others hold a familiar old opinion up to you, its gauziness so apparent with just a little light behind it. I replied all too seriously:
What we must do is convince them that they have already committed themselves to our own favourite fetters.

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Posted in: Aphorism
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