A new way of collecting data allows a duo of creative coders to archive transit information and update the map every hour, creating a handy tool for trend spotting and comparing traffic.
The first time Andy Woodruff and Tim Wallace created a map of Boston’s bus routes was back in the fall of 2011. Using data from the MBTA, the duo (who write over at Boston-centric blog, Bostonography, charted the paths and speeds of buses over the course of 24 hours.
In the years since they first published the MBTA Bus Speeds, the team has learned better ways to automate mapping. Now, with a bit of coding they can sit back and watch the maps draw themselves. Woodruff and Wallace pull in data from NextBus every hour, and that information is stored in a database. “Image rendering is done by some pretty simple PHP scripts that grab the data, string the points together into lines based on vehicle ID, calculate distances and speeds, then draw thousands of lines.”