A month ago, Martin posted this amazing video (watch it fullscreen with the audio off) from STLTransit. Since then (and before, too I guess), STLTransit has posted similar videos for a great number of cities around the world in their youtube feed. The Seattle one is impressive, but taken together STLTransit has really made something. I’ve watched all of them, and I have learned a few things comparing them that I’d like to share with you below the fold.
It is really interesting to see how geography effects an area’s transit system. The Seattle video gives a pretty clear picture of how North-South the majority of routes in Seattle are, which is obvious from the geography of the city. Then there’s Auckland, with everything funneled through a narrow strip of land around the CDB. There everything is North-South out of necessity.
You can also get an idea of how awkward our city’s grid is by comparing to other cities. Compare to Vancouver, Chicago, or San Francisco (itself Hilly with grids intersecting at angles). If you have a look at New York’s video, you can see Manhattan is probably the place most friendly to this approach. More or less flat and long, you get a pretty nice grid despite being relatively old.
When I visited Toronto, I remarked how transit lines run more or less straight down streets without turning. You can really see that in the visualization. One of the consequences of this for Toronto is that even though they have only a few subway lines, they are able to get a lot of impact out of them by funneling bus riders into subway stations. Since Seattle’s not going to be getting a ton of Link lines, this is something that we may be able to do here to increase the impact of our transit systems.
One last thing that comes out clearly in these visualizations how important the CBD of a city is relative to its size. Dallas has a reputation for having a tiny CBD relative to its size, and has a map that fits that. An the other hand, Los Angeles has a tiny CDB considering how massive a city it is, but because of its amazing but small subway, it doesn’t appear quite that way in its visualization. DC, Toronto and Seattle have a lot of gravity around their central areas, which seems about right.
Anyway, I could watch these sort of things for ages. It’s interesting to see how different cities are oriented and how they have decided to move their people around via transit.