Posts Tagged ‘wmata’

Transit on Google Maps comes to a Town Near You (Kelso)

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

[Editor's note: When I've traveled to Paris or Beijing I like to take public transit both below and above ground. It gives me a good sense of the people and the place. And it reduces my carbon footprint. But sometimes figuring out transit systems can be irksome. I've got a great pocket atlas of Beijing that shows major bus lines and their stops which is helpful. And Paris offers some good printed material. But figuring out which station or stop is closest to the start and end of the trip is just the beginning. Which route is best? And when will I get there are two important questions. If you've missed it, Google Transit solves many of these challenges. New transit systems are being added monthly, check to see if your city participates.]

I live in metro Washington DC and our transit agency finally released their network topology, routing, scheduling in Google Transit format after a long petition drive. Now 3rd party developers, including Google, can use this to build out web apps or even mobile phone apps like iBART. DCist has coverage of both the recalcitrance of this public agency in giving out data we’ve already paid for as tax payers (sound familiar). Cartographers should use the station and bus stop locations included in these transit feeds to locate these features on their city maps.

Cartographers need to get on the mobile app development bandwagon and provide customers with tools that leverage these types of datasets. Imagine an app that has a proximity sensor / alert for nearby bus or transit stops or tells you the bus you want is coming in 5 minutes, time to pack up. And can do all the routing for you. And can be leveraged to provide the customer with, say, trail routing in the backcountry, too.

Why is transit on Google Maps a big deal? From WorldChanging:

[Including transit on maps and routing] make public transit more accessible and easier for everyone to understand; and in doing so, it will certainly increase transit ridership and reduce driving.

One of the big barriers to public transit use is the knowledge required to use the system: where to wait, when to wait, where to transfer, how much to pay, etc. Some readers may remember that two years ago we helped cause Google Transit to happen, but it’s taken off far beyond what we had suggested, and they keep getting better. What’s more, they’re doing it at no charge to the transit agencies (a perpetually under-funded sector of local governments). More cities are coming on board, as well; if you live in one of the eleven cities now participating, enjoy! If you live elsewhere, consider writing to your local transit agency and telling them to join the 21st century. (ahem… San Francisco, right in Google’s back yard, no excuse… ahem.)

What are these tools? In addition to being able to type in your route and get comprehensive directions (including walking to stations, showing the bus or train route, walking directions between stations, how much it costs, etc.), you can plan trips by departure or arrival time and see when the next couple buses come if you miss the one you’re aiming for. Now, if you zoom in enough on any Google map in the right city, all the transit stops appear, with different icons for bus, light rail, etc.; click on a bus stop and up pops a list of the buses or trains that stop there; click on the bus number, and up pops the timetable for the next several buses stopping there.

Want to get your transit data on the map? Aaron Antrim, who heads Trillium Transit Internet Solutions helps smaller agencies get online with Google Transit, in particular, those small-to-midsized transit agencies that don’t have dedicated IT staffs (ref). Aaron went to the same university as me and is quite active in transit circles.

There’s a petition to add “By bike” like there is “Walking” and “Transit” to Google Maps (ref). See this in action at byCycle.org as seen at Treehugger.

Taking the Train: The Most Used Subway Systems in the US and Around the World (Good Magazine)

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

[Editor's note: This chart needs a per capita analysis and comparable accounting of subway milages but is super fun any how. Click image above for larger view, or follow link below. Happy birthday Katie Rose!]

Republished from Good magazine.
Orig pub date: Feb. 17, 2009.

Even though subways are a fuel-efficent way to move people around congested urban areas, Americans make poor use of them, probably because they are poorly funded and often don’t travel where we want to go. Right now, of the five most-used subway systems in the country, only New York City’s attracts as many riders as the five largest foreign subway systems.

A collaboration between GOOD and Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

View the original graphic | blog post.

Visualizing Level of Service on Subway Lines (Track 29)

Monday, December 8th, 2008

[Editor's note: Washington DC has the second busiest subway system in the US after New York city. This series of visual diagrams show the network's topology and how to optimize routing to achieve a better level of service (quicker train frequency). Note how the time scale has been reduced to modular 12, easy to understand as a train every 2 to 6 minutes based on the number of colored lines thru each subway station.

DC's metro rail subway is convenient and affordable. But with more people using transit every year, the system is beginning to show signs of strain (heck, it's over 30 years old now!). The federal gov't just gave one of the last nods to construct a new line (dubbed the "Silver") connecting downtown DC to Dulles International Airport and farther out into the exurbs. But this does little to alleviate crowding on the original 5 rail lines .

How to squeeze the most capacity out of existing tunnels and switches? These excellent maps from Track 29 chart the current system and show how it might be tweeked to optimize the flow of passengers from point A to point B primarily on the Orange line, the most overcrowded, where a switching problem reduces train frequency thru the downtown central business district (CBD).]

Republished in part from Track 29.
(They have a much more complete technical discussion.)
First seen at Greater Greater Washington.

The first diagram represents WMATA’s current service pattern during rush hours. Colors represent each of the subway routes. More lines along a colored route represent better (more frequent) service. [Ed: not all stations shown, based on "rush" peak service.]

Based on the 135 second headway, WMATA can run 5 trains through a given segment of track every 12 minutes. Each the diagrams below represents a 12 minute interval during rush hour. Each of the lines on the diagram represents a train in each direction. Therefore, a trackway with two lines (like between Stadium Armory and Largo) represents a headway of 6 minutes–12/2. In other words, you’ll be waiting for a train for up to 6 minues. While on the Red line it would only be 2.5 minutes. [Ed: map seems to undercount Green line service.]

There are several choke points in the system, including at the Roslyn tunnel where the Orange and Blue lines converge and travel under the Potomac River into the District of Columbia.


Click to see larger.

The chief limitation for the Orange Line, as you can see here is the 4 minute headway on the Vienna-Rosslyn segment. Adding one train would reduce headways to 3 minutes and would add a capacity of 1000-1400 passengers for every 12 minute period. Any additional capacity is sorely needed, but the segment of track between Rosslyn and Stadium Armory is essentially at capacity.

Hence the so-called “Blue Line Split.”  Here’s what WMATA is proposing: [Ed: WMATA runs the Metrorail subway in DC.]


Click to see larger.

This results in better service on the Orange line, and equivelent service on the Blue, except for Arlington Cemetary station primarily used by tourists (there are no homes or offices at that station). Many Blue line riders actually need to transfer at Metro Center or L’Enfant stations or get to eastern downtown faster, so this may actually be a boon for them, too.


Click to see larger.

But, while that squeezes extra service, the naming convention of the lines becomes confused. Some propose renaming / rerouting the Blue and Yellow lines like so (below). This map reflects this and planned Silver line service.

Greater Greater DC has a full discussion of adding even more commuter rail service to the nation’s capitol.

Continue reading at Track 29 . . .

Transit on Thursday

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

nytimes dc taxi picThe New York Time’s Ariel Sabar has an article on today’s switch-over to time-distance meters for Washington DC cabs: Adopting Meters, Washington Ends Taxi Zone System. The first few graphs:

Over the objections of cabdrivers, the District of Columbia is set on Thursday to scrap its seven-decade-old method of calculating taxi fares. Conventional time-and-distance meters will replace a system based on geographic zones.

The District was the only major American city to base fares on how many zones a cab crossed. Many riders, particularly out-of-town visitors, found the system of 23 zones confusing. Critics said it was too easy for unscrupulous drivers to overcharge.

‘The riding public asked for a more transparent fare system, and the mayor responded,’ Leon J. Swain Jr., chairman of the Taxicab Commission, said in a phone interview. Continue reading . . . 

Back up in New York the Times also covers a revision to the subway map made by Massimo Vignelli for the May edition of Men’s Vogue.

ny metro map comparions

Returning to DC, the WMATA subway and bus authority considered expanding our own system after the Feds breathed new steam into the planned Silver Line from Falls Church to Dulles International Airport and beyond to Loudoun County, the fastest growing country in the US recent years.

dc metro 2030 view