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  • Writer's pictureMichal J A Paszkiewicz

A city map of bus and train stations

A few people recently asked me if there was a nice way of displaying the distribution of bus stops across London. Having some statistical data is nice, but seeing an image is even nicer.


I took a data sample from Overpass-Turbo of bus stops and train (or Undeground) stations. This is easily achievable with the following two queries:


node["highway"="bus_stop"]({{bbox}});
node["railway"="station"]({{bbox}});

Showing just this data by itself gives quite a nice map:


A map of London's bus stops and train/Underground stations
London's bus stops and train stations. Black dots are bus stops and red circles are train stations.

The shape of main roads can be easily made out by the arrangement of the bus stops. It's also noticeable that many of the train stations follow roads just as the bus stops do. When both trains and buses follow a road, the buses have far more frequent stops. Londoners will know well that when a train line has a planned suspension, it is usually replaced with a 'Rail replacement bus service' which can take an almost identical route and then usually doesn't stop at all the bus stops a normal bus would have. Those who know London well will be able to spot the gap where the Thames goes through the city.


For comparison, here's a map at the same scale of Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud. There is no strong metro system, and trains are mostly used to travel to other cities. Buses follow roads, but they are only comparably dense to London's bus networks very near the centre. In the suburbs, private cars dominate.

Bus stops and train stations in Cheltenham and Gloucester. Black dots are bus stops and red circles are train stations.
Bus stops and train stations in Cheltenham and Gloucester. Black dots are bus stops and red circles are train stations.

Liverpool's coast is very clear, with slightly more usage of rail:


Liverpool's bus stops and train stations. Black dots are bus stops and red circles are train stations.
Liverpool

Manchester has an impressive network of bus stops, and the Manchester Ship Canal which divides Salford and Trafford is easy to spot. The rail network is considerable, but still incomparable to that of London.

Manchester's bus stops and train stations. Black dots are bus stops and red circles are train stations.
Manchester

Wolverhampton and Birmingham look almost like a cell in the process of cell division. The bus and rail stops densities seem fairly similar to Manchester, despite containing almost double the population.

Bus stops and train stations in Wolverhampton and Birmingham. Black dots are bus stops and red circles are train stations.
Wolverhampton and Birmingham

London's density of train stations is perhaps the most impressive difference to any other city in the UK. Regular stops will of course mean that journey time will be lost, but the convenience will be significantly better, with average distance to a train station always fairly low.


Data from OpenStreetMap, available under the Open Database License.

 

Michal is a Software Developer with over a decade of experience, the majority of which he has worked on complex Transport systems. When he isn't working, he spends more time learning about Transport than is healthy for him.


If you learnt anything here, or enjoyed reading this analysis, please support Michal by buying his new book - The Perfect Transport: and the science of why you can't have it.


Some of his other writing and interactive content on Transport can also be found on his blog.

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