It’s a living, breathing transit map.

Have you ever spent your commute on public transit feeling not unlike a ping pong ball, bouncing from line to line between bodies, backpacks and unending escalators? A new data visualization from a coder named Will Gallia shows commuters working their way through a day in the life of London’s Tube as exactly that: busy little pixels of commuting energy.

Gallia created his visualization with London Underground data from a single day in 2009. He used information from a 5 percent sample of Oyster card journeys to determine where each of roughly 560,000 travelers’ trips began and ended. (The BBC reported last year that 3.5 million Brits take the Tube every day.) He then wrote a routing algorithm to estimate which lines these commuters used on their journeys. Finally, he superimposed these trips on the map of London’s Underground system, allowing the pixelated bodies of his passengers to illuminate the daily ebbs and flows of the Tube.

There are a few fun takeaways from this living, breathing transit map. Things get really, really busy, for instance, at around 8:40 in the morning, and again at around 6:10 at night. But there are also areas of consistent low activity: The Hainault Loop in the far right corner, for instance, attracts few riders even at the craziest of commute times. All transit lines are not created equal.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: An elderly resident of a village in Japan's Gunma Prefecture.
    Life

    In Japan’s Vanishing Rural Towns, Newcomers Are Wanted

    Facing declining birthrates and rural depopulation, hundreds of “marginal villages” could vanish in a few decades. But some small towns are fighting back.

  2. photo: A woman crosses an overpass above the 101 freeway in Los Angeles, California.
    Transportation

    Navigation Apps Changed the Politics of Traffic

    In an excerpt from the new book The Future of Transportation, CityLab’s Laura Bliss adds up the “price of anarchy” when it comes to traffic navigation apps.

  3. Equity

    Bernie Sanders and AOC Unveil a Green New Deal for Public Housing

    The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act would commit up to $180 billion over a decade to upgrading 1.2 million federally owned homes.

  4. photo: Helsinki's national library
    Design

    How Helsinki Built ‘Book Heaven’

    Finland’s most ambitious library has a lofty mission, says Helsinki’s Tommi Laitio: It’s a kind of monument to the Nordic model of civic engagement.

  5. People handle guns on display at a show in Las Vegas.
    Life

    The 3 Gun-Control Laws That Work Best in the U.S.

    States with stricter gun-control laws have fewer homicides, especially when they’re used in combination, according to a new study.

×