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Map Shows How Fast (or Slow) Buses Move in Los Angeles

Photo by Eric Fischer via Flickr
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The hottest trend among cartographers is grabbing data from NextBus and using it to create maps that help visualize just how long it takes to get around on public transportation in whatever city you choose.

The digital cartographer Eric Fischer that helped kick off the trend with his map of the MUNI system in the Bay Area released his own visualization of the Los Angeles transit system. We've posted the map above (or you can check out the giant-sized one that wouldn't fit on our blog on Flickr).

Fischer used data from last Thursday to create the map and the legend goes as follows:

Black = Less than 7 mph
Red = 7-18 mph
Blue = 19-42 mph
Green = More than 43 mph
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On this Thursday, he figured the average bus moved about 10 mph including stops and his visualization helps you see where buses moved the slowest and fastest — although it is a little hard to tell which streets are which since they're not labeled.

Downtown, unsurprisingly, is the most clogged, and it looks like there are tentacles of gridlock radiating out from it. Sunset gets pretty crowded from around Los Feliz through Hollywood and West Hollywood and there's a lot of black in Santa Monica. It looks like buses on the Harbor Freeway and the 10 east of downtown have the most green out of any thoroughfare.

(Note: if you get a little jealous looking at all that green on the San Francisco map, keep in mind that the comparison is sort of apples and oranges. From what I can tell, rail doesn't factor into Fischer's L.A. map.)

It would be pretty sweet if we could learn how to make these maps ourselves so we could visualize how the Oscars, Obamajam, Carmageddon or even just a light rainstorm drive us crazy.

Cartographer Matt Wigway also has his own visualization of Los Angeles metro speeds, which shows slightly different results — buses that travel on freeways look like much bigger winners. It's hard to tell how their methodology differs.