Visualising networks

For a while now I’ve wanted to start exploring different ways of using mapdeck to make eye-catching and unusual visualisations. So hopefully this post is one of many along this theme.

The goal here isn’t necessarily to meaningfully interpret data, but rather to see what’s possible. And if a story jumps out then great, we can use it.

What’s going on here?

We’ve kindly been given an extract from the Victorian Department of Transport’s TrainSUM model for a single, random Thursday (pre-COVID). Symbolix were fortunate to collaborate with the Department to develop TrainSUM. The software combines survey, ticketing and timetable data to enable analysts to estimate train service loads across the Melbourne Metro network.

Visualising the differences between stations at different times of day is challenging because you need to balance spatial and temporal data. It’s difficult to get a sense of the ‘movement’ on the network. That’s what I’m experimenting with here.

In the map I’m showing the load on each train as it departs each station, represeneted by both the colour AND height of the line.

(You can see the heights if you tilt the map by pressing Control / Command and dragging the map).

Is this any good?

Yes. Next?

Ok, why is it good?

A few things I like about it are

  1. Watching the ‘trains’ move is mesmerising

  2. Having the height represent the number of people on each train shows the differences between trains on different lines entering the same station, and differences between inbound and outbound services at different times of the day.

  3. The manipulation of the data I did behind the scenes to make it.

How could you improve it?

I have a few ideas, including showing people arriving at stations, and then leaving the network too, and adding the time to the map so you can see when the morning & evenign peaks are, but they will have to wait for another post.

What do you think?

Is this a good way to represent loads on the train network?

*For actual patronage values please refer to DOT