Translink Service Costs: An Interactive Webmap

It's totally fabulous to be both a data nerd and fan of public organizations that publish annual reviews.  Now, your normal human would probably want to curl up and die rather than review reams of data from public agencies, but if you dig deep and ask right questions, we can find real information hidden in annual reviews! This weeks blog post target is Translink, who helpfully post their annual system performance review for all to enjoy.... as long as you enjoy reading through pages of pdfs!.. Personally, when I see data like this, my mind immediately goes to mapping.  I want to see where the system is doing well and see what routes are well utilized.  Visualizing data like this can help all of us see how we can influence and understand our vital public transportation services  So.... Now on to why you are here:

Data from the app: Screenshots of various attributes

BACKGROUND

Like any other agencies, transit authorities are not incredibly different in their search for improvement through detailed system reviews. As someone who is curious about transit use and how cities run, I couldn't help myself but create an interactive map of TransLink's (the transit authority in Metro Vancouver) various public reports spurred from their 2016 Transit Service Performance Review (note: when new data is available it will be added to the map and we will do some skookum analysis on it, I promise). The intent of the map is to show the geographic variation of various service metrics and to stimulate discussions with regards to transit planning.  It's also a nice medium for simply taking a look at how all of the pieces of our transit system fit together.

Regarding their findings, TransLink highlights that "from 2015 to 2016 ridership across the system continued to grow" and:

  • Total journeys across the system increased 4.5% to 233 million.
  • System-wide boardings increased 4.5% to a record 384.8 million.
  • Bus boardings increased by 4.6%.
  • Canada Line boardings grew by 5.5%.
  • Expo and Millennium lines grew by 4.1%.
  • West Coast Express boardings decreased by 3.0%.
  • Boardings on the SeaBus declined by 2.8%.

TransLink sourced the data for the the Service Review from a number of sources including:

  • automatic passenger counter (APC) units on buses;
  • turnstiles at SeaBus terminals;
  • fare gates at SkyTrain stations; and
  • Compass Card validators and selective manual counts at West Coast Express stations.

BUILDING THE MAP

The data in the Service Report was weighted by boardings/revenue hour and then loaded into our online mapping system as Average Cost per Boarded Passenger (given the total cost to run the bus and number of passengers how much does it cost to translink to run this bus per passenger), Annual Service Cost (the total cost of running this bus), Peak Load Factor (how full this bus is during rush hour), Average Boardings Per Revenue Hour, and Avverage Bus Speed layers. The bus routes were colour coded to show blue as the least, green the middle, and yellow the most (cost, or fullness, or speed etc depending on the map).  Where two or more bus routes overlap, we've taken an average of the above variables using average boardings per revenue hour as a weighting factor.

HOW TO USE THE MAP

When viewing the interactive map, use the layers button to switch between different service metrics. A list of routes can be shown using the route buttons, and each route can be clicked on to obtain detailed information in the route summary box. Alternatively, a route segment can be clicked on and an individual route can be selected from the popup. The works great on desktop computers, but we are having a bit of issue on touch with mobile.. Bear with us!!

understanding the map

Ride Cost: Blue are cheaper lines to run per passenger and yellow are the most expensive.. It's cool to note where there are geographies of great high costs per passenger and where there are lower costs. It's neat to see what is going on in Surrey, for instance.

Service Cost: This is annual total cost, so it is unsurprising that areas with the most transit service show up as the highest values... it costs a lot of money to run frequent transit as the layer clearly portrays

Peak Load Factor: Expressed as percentages,  these data show routes that are well or poorly utilized during rush hour.  Take a look at the commuter busses, they may have lower service hours but they are dialed for occupancy

Boarding Per Hour: This layer shows average boardings per revenue hour.  It is a good measure of transit use. Check out the bright yellow routes of the number 20 and the 99/9/14/16 corridor.

Bus Speed: My favorite layer! If you spend a lot of time on the bus and wonder if it is going slow, well now you know.  It's not all Vancouver for slowness, check out the North Vancouver slow down as well. good times!

We love feedback

If you like this (or hate it), let us know. We are happy to make changes such that you can see and understand the data a little bit better such that you can transform these data into information.