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Day in the life of GO Transit

Map animation shows the amount of service GO Transit buses and trains provide.

May 15, 2018

To understand how much transit moves along roads and rails throughout the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA), you don’t need to look much further than the work of Anthony Smith.

Taking data and telling stories for all to understand is what he does. Smith spends his days working as modelling and geomatics advisor for Metrolinx. He’s also a self-professed ‘transit nerd’ and loves dabbling in this sort of stuff on his own time as well.

“It’s part of the fun of learning about the region,” Smith said. “Really trying to understand where GO Transit is operating and see the patterns.”

A bustling, animated map with what looks like an excited ant colony is just one of his many creations. Last fall, he was crunching the numbers for the amount of GO buses and trains running at any given time during the day. What he came up with shows just how busy those operations can get.

Watching the tiny blue and yellow spots flow throughout the GTHA can be fascinating. As the number of vehicles increase and decrease during the morning and evening rush, the livelier the map becomes.

“The video starts at midnight and it shows every GO Transit vehicles operating through a 24-hour period,” Smith said. “It shows where all the buses and trains are running.”

There is also a table with the number of different types of vehicles and a real-time graph at the bottom of the screen showing the peak periods for service as well.

Smith said he has received quite a bit of feedback since he first posted the animation on his @HeathyCityMaps Twitter feed and YouTube channel. Everyone from those who simply think it’s “cool” to other transit enthusiasts pointing out some of the quirks seem to be enjoying it.

“I think overall it’s building the conversation about transit,” he said. “We’re doing a lot.”