Maps

10 Years of London Underground Ridership Data in One Map

A picture of growth across space and time.

Even the London Underground, one of the most widely used transit networks in the world, has seen something of a ridership boom in the past decade. The system now gives more than a billion rides a year, a figure nudged up in the latest data from 2012 with the help of the Olympics.

Scan over Transport for London's ridership stats over all this time, and you can watch some Tube stops swell in popularity, and whole neighborhoods seem to expand. Oliver O'Brien, a researcher at the University College London's Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (and the developer behind an equally entrancing global bikeshare visualization), has just put all of these Tube stats online in an in-depth interactive map. From 2003-2012, you can visualize the annual entries and exits from each stop in the system, or break those numbers down by weekday or rush hour.

The map enables some interesting comparisons across time. Here is the center of the network in 2003, with the smallest circles corresponding to a million entries and exits per year, followed by 5 million, then 20 million (if you link through to the full site, you can click on complete stats for each station):

This is 2012 (think of it as a spot-the-difference game):

Viewed another way, this is the change in ridership between those two maps, with the largest circles – such as at the Stratford stop near the Olympic Park – experiencing the biggest gains across the decade:

The map also includes some ridership survey data from 2012 that enables you to track the most common destinations from journeys starting at each station. If you're having a snow day today on the East Coast, we recommend this as a good way to kill some of your time.

All maps courtesy of Oliver O'Brien and the UCL Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis.

About the Author

  • Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific StandardGOODThe Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.