Visualizing transit accessibility, minute by minute

OpenTripPlanner Analyst turns the multi-modal power of OpenTripPlanner into an analytical toolbox for exploring accessibility. If you missed it, here's an excellent primer from Andrew Byrd about the capabilities and future potential of this tool. And fresh from the lab, here's the first-cut of an animation of accessibility in the New York City area:

What's going on here? This animation shows a series of “travel sheds” produced with the Analyst. From a starting point in downtown Manhattan, we're calculating how far you can travel using scheduled transit service. Color bands indicate travel time — areas colored green are within a 30 minute ride/walk, blue represents an hour of travel, and so on.

For each frame in the animation, we're incrementing the departure time by a few minutes. Early in the animation, you're seeing a representation of travel time for someone departing at the end of the evening. Later, you see overnight service, and by the end of the video you can see accessibility pick up again with morning peak service.

There's a lot of information conveyed here.  As service decreases overnight, you can see shifts in color — eastern Queens decreases and then increases in accessibility as LIRR departures through Jamaica are less frequent, and then more frequent again. Because we're considering the entire transit system, you're seeing travel times that depend on trips with multiple services – a ride on the subway in Manhattan, then a transfer to commuter rail. As the schedule changes for each service, the calculated travel time changes too.

Powered by the OpenTripPlanner Analyst, generating this animation only takes a few minutes. Andrew is already working on the next round of animations, as well as many useful metrics. But for now, we wanted to share it with you. Switch to HD mode, go full screen, and enjoy.