D.C. transportation officials have collected a trove of data to provide a visualization of the challenges of commuting around the region. Planners say they can use the tool to improve the commute for the District’s more than 660,000 residents — and the additional 700,000 workers and visitors who cross into the city daily.
It also gives the public access to the same information as transportation planners.
The District Department of Transportation website, districtmobility.org, is aimed at visualizing the city’s transit network, illustrating how the systems perform at different times of day, and providing glimpses at how the vast transit network can be improved. The maps cull information from multiple datasets to illustrate congestion, reliability and accessibility across various forms of transportation: walking, driving, public transit and biking.
“The goal of the District Mobility Project is to better quantify and qualify the state of the District’s transportation system performance from a holistic, multimodal perspective,” DDOT Director Leif Dormsjo said in a statement. “The interactive, data-rich design of District Mobility provides an innovative platform for sharing the state of mobility and DDOT’s progress towards reducing congestion on our roads.”
The site is organized into six “stories” that each shed light on a different facet of commuting in the District, answering questions such as: What are the most congested routes in the morning and evening rush hours? How does the average commute time vary by ward? Where are the most and least comfortable places to ride a bike?
The project pulls data from Metro, traffic research firm INRIX, and a variety of datasets to visualize mobility data for each form of transportation.
“Data in a tabular format is only so useful — to actually put it there on a map is the way that we understand the world,” said project manager Stephanie Dock, research program administrator at DDOT. “It opens it up to a broader range of people, and so you know the same things, a member of the public can see the same things, that we as an agency are able to look at and draw their own conclusions.”
The maps shine a light on neighborhoods with low transit accessibility and roadways with high congestion, with an eye on short-term investment in those areas. It also gives planners a holistic glimpse at which bus corridors are most clogged, which lines face the most crowding, and which areas are over and under-served.
“I think the level of activity on the bus system has been really fascinating to see, which of the lines are busiest and when, how late in the evening there are still buses that are carrying very high numbers of people,” Dock said.
The data is from 2015 and is static, not real-time, the agency said. Dock said she looked forward to incorporating data from 2016 to visualize the impact that Metro’s yearlong SafeTrack repair program has had on local transit networks.
DDOT said the project will inform its “short-and-long-term investment strategies.” The project was in development for about a year before Monday’s launch, the agency said, and cost about $1 million — lower than the $1.5 million that was budgeted, DDOT spokesman Terry Owens said. It was the D.C. Council that requested DDOT develop a mobility report and identify solutions to the District’s congestion problem.
“Broadening that vision, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) sought to better quantify and qualify the state of its transportation system performance from a holistic multimodal perspective,” the site says.