Visualization by Will Geary, Data Scientist at CitySwifter. Used with permission.

This incredible animation shows all—or at least most—of the trains and buses that run up and down the east coast, from Northern Virginia to New England, over the course of one 24 hour weekday.

It uses data from every published transit schedule its creator could combine, including Amtrak, commuter rail, subways, light rail, buses, and even some ferries.

The video begins at 12:01 am on a Monday. New York is active, Philadelphia has a little going on, and the rest of the map is silent.

Around 3:30 in the morning, buses begin to appear in Baltimore, along with a few Amtrak trains. Around 4:00 buses in DC and Hartford first show up, followed at 5:00 by Boston, New Haven, and Wilmington, Delaware. At 5:30 a true morning surge is visible all over the map, gradually building to a 9:00 am rush hour crescendo in which individual suburban highways are clearly visible.

Service ebbs through midday, then gradually becomes busy again for the evening rush, until visibly slowing again around 8:00 pm. From then, service dwindles every hour all up and down the map. The last frames, just before midnight, look a lot like 5:00 am. The bigger cities are still running service, but the smaller ones and most of the suburbs are not.

What stands out to you?

Thumbnail: Image by Will Geary, Data Scientist at CitySwifter, used with permission.


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Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and an adjunct professor at George Washington University. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado and lives in Trinidad, DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post. Dan blogs to express personal views, and does not take part in GGWash's political endorsement decisions.