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More Chicago transit data than you can handle

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

The folks at the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) have done transit nerds yet another huge favor.  First it was their H+T Index, which was rolled into Abogo, their walkscore-esque tool that helps you measure your carbon footprint.  Now, they've gone and put an enormous collection of data online in an open, easy-to-use Transit-Oriented Development Database.  For lack of a better phrase, this is data porn.  Specifically, transit data.  You can look at every type of data imaginable for the areas within a quarter- or half-mile of any individual train station (what CNT calls the "transit zone" for that station) or collection of stations (the "transit shed").

I'll be rummaging through as much of the data as I can in the coming days and weeks (especially the job density statistics), but for now, here are a few tidbits to hold you over:

-- Based on 2000 population estimates, only about 1.15 million people live within a half-mile of L stations.  For reference: Chicago's population was about 2.9 million in 2000.  But keep in mind those 1.15 million include residents of Cicero, Oak Park, Skokie, and Evanston, where the L extends past Chicago's borders, so in reality an even smaller part of the city's population is transit-oriented.

pop density near Ls.png

-- Although average density can be a very misleading statistic, it's useful in this sense: ideally, the areas near train stations should be significantly more dense than the city as a whole.  (Unless you're dealing with a uniformly-dense place like Manhattan, where even the low-density areas can support transit.)  Chicago's average density is about 13,000 people per square mile.  But as you can see above, nearly half of the 142 L stations have local densities (within 0.5 miles of the stop) under 13,440 people per square mile.  Granted, some of these stops are like O'Hare or Midway, but many of them are not.

-- 26 of the 27 densest stations by population are on the Red/Brown/Purple north side.  The lone outlier is Damen, on the Pink Line.

Much more to come, or add your own findings in the comments.


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