New York City Subway Ridership

A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines.

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– from Here is New York by E.B. White

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sounds of breathingheartbeat, and subway are from freesound.org

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Railroads, roads, and subways are New York City’s circulatory system. Every weekday, the subway transports 5.6 million and brings 2.5 million commuters to and from work (from 2017 stats). This daily rhythm of population growth and decline breathes economic life into this city.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) publishes data on the weekly and weekend (Saturday + Sunday) ridership at each of its ~425 stations. These statistics, updated yearly, are publicly available and can be analyzed to track trends in movement and urban growth.

The MTA data was downloaded, analyzed, and then plotted onto the city map. Dots are color-coded according to the subway lines they serve. White dots are for junctions between two or more lines. Dot size corresponds to the number of riders who swipe into each station with their metro card during each 24-hour period. Larger dots are for busier stations; smaller dots are for less busy stations.

Commuting patterns are analogous to the rhythmic expansion and contraction of the human body while breathing. By contrasting weekday and weekend ridership patterns, we detect the city’s respiratory system. Each passenger symbolizes the movement of a single blood cell, operating as one cellular unit in a complex system.

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Interactive Map

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Research Methodology

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Sources

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