Metro Visualization

Experimental Information Design

In this project, I took data on the DC Metro and created a visualization that represents the ebb and flow of the city’s public transit system over the course of a day. I requested a single weekday’s ridership data from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in order to form the basis of this visualization.

Diagram showing blue fountains representing entries and pink fountains representing exits.

Blue fountains, representing people entering the system, light up in the suburbs in the morning and downtown in the afternoon. Pink fountains, representing people exiting the system, do the reverse.

The data came in the form of an Excel spreadsheet with over 4,000 data points. By feeding the data from Excel into particle generators in After Effects, data that was previously impenetrable became a general representation of activity in the Metro system (and, by extension, the city) as it ebbs and flows throughout the day.

While this is an abstraction by design, it did illuminate certain interesting details that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. For example, the blue fountain that shoots upward at the Navy Yard station around 9:30 p.m. appears to be a major anomaly at first, and I initially suspected an error in the data. This is explained, however, by the Nationals game that ended around that time, releasing everyone in the stadium into the Navy Yard station at the same time.

A sudden fountain burst shows peak activity at Nationals Park.

See the full visualization below:

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