This Real-Time Visualization Tracks Every Bus and Subway in NYC

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The New York City subway system has gotten a lot of flack this week, both from the Rider’s Alliance, whose new book of commuters’ Subway Horror Stories aims to shame Cuomo into better funding the MTA, and from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who can’t believe how gross the trains are. But this strangely hypnotic real-time visualization of the city’s transit data might be remind subway haters of the system’s intricacy and sheer magnitude, impressive despite all the rats. For stressed-out commuters, the zoomed-out view is a little like a the MTA edition of Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot.

The tracker, created by GeOps and data scientists at Germany’s University of Freiburg, visualizes open-sourced data published by transit agencies and operators from 249 locations all over the world. The movements are mostly based on static schedule data, but whenever real-time data is available, it’s included in the visualization. While it’s not particularly useful for actually planning trips, watching the tiny trains as colorful blobs ooching along from above can make you feel like an omniscient transit god.

Play around with the visualization here.

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