CTA opens up mapping and ridership data for apps developers - and the curious

Did you know that the top four single-day station entry tallies for any rail station are all at the Belmont station on the Red/Brown/Purple lines on the days of the annual Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade from each of the previous four years?

And that the next busiest day and station was Clark/Lake on the Loop elevated on June 11, 2010 - the day of the Blackhawks Stanley Cup Parade and celebration?

You can glean these bits of information now and much more since the CTA released ridership data in an easier to parse format on Friday. The transit agency also is making mapping data available for the first time ever.

"This mapping data will allow developers to visualize and analyze CTA service locations and availability in relation to ridership patterns, demographics and other information that helps CTA strategically plan service to best serve all of metro Chicago," according to a CTA press release. "They can now plot CTA services and facilities on maps which can be cross referenced with other data (such as census data) in software like Google Earth."

The new ridership data T will allow people to "dive deep into the numbers" and view raw ridership statistics, by bus route or train station, both daily and monthly (in totals and averages), as well as annual statistics for both bus and rail back to the 1980s.

The CTA released the data just three days before today's deadline for the transportation round of the Apps for Metro Chicago software challenge.

Here's a full list of the CTA datasets.


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  • I guess that the developer community (including your brother and Zolk) can figure out if any of this is useful. Obviously the Tracker interfaces are. The others, I wonder. For instance, Pace makes available the bus stop coordinates that it programs into the Intelligent Bus System, but not the arrival interface, and its arrival times on WebWatch are usually worthless.

    Similarly, if CTA has all this ridership and map data to mine, but F. Gump Claypool reverts to the 6 year old stuff about "we have 82% of the rides," and similar discredited numbers, and obviously doesn't listen to anyone else, I don't know what good having the interface out there does. Maybe to a marketer of GLBT products, but they know when the parade is. Similarly, I'll bet that entries spike at Addison about 4:15 on Sunday when the L flag goes up, but I wonder if the data reflect that.

  • What good with the tracking do if the legislators still have pet projects and routes? If it improves service where it is needed I think it is about time they did take a look at the needs, but so far none of the changes have made a big difference on the South side of the city. Our buses are still slow and often come back to back even with bus tracker reporting where they are.

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