A day in the life of Canberra's bus network

A day in the life of Canberra's bus network

It's the ACTION bus network as you'd probably never imagine it as you stand waiting at lonely suburban bus stop.

A Canadian tech company has created a data visualisation video showing a day in the life of Canberra's bus network.

The video shows each bus on the network as a tiny white dot moving like a tiny white ant around a darkened city.

The same techniques have been used by the company, Sumus Technology Limited (STL), to represent the public transport networks of its home city, Vancouver, as well as other big cities such as Berlin, New York and Sydney.


Canberra represents a big step down in visual intensity.

Beginning with the first week day buses at 5.30am, there are only a handful of dots spread out across vast parts of the city, growing to about 40 buses by 6am. As the morning goes on, the tiny moving lights grow to the hundreds, reaching a peak of 362 between 7.30-9am.

The numbers drop again during the workday before returning to that peak between 4.30pm-6pm.

The city's key transport routes are clearly visible, especially Northbourne Avenue, Parkes Way and Adelaide Avenue. Our roundabouts also feature prominently, including the biggest of all, Parliament House, and City Hill on the north side of the lake.

Occasionally a lone dot darts away from company to service a suburban route.

ACTION director James Roncon said beyond being just interesting to look at, the data visualisation had some practical use.

"It tells us where the spines of our network are, where the [bus] traffic is and it gives us the ability to see where the services might grow," he said.

"It also helps us see where we can straighten out some of those windier routes that aren't so popular and to improve what we can offer."

The Canadian company made the video using the General Transit Feed Specification data made available by ACTION.

Its videos for other big cities require different coloured lights to represent a variety of public transport.

In Canberra's case, white dots suffice, although in time light rail could lead to some more colour in the Canberra transport scramble.

Mr Roncon said he hoped Canberrans who looked at the video would see a service that was "having a go" in what is a difficult city to manage public transport.

"We'd like them to see that there is a route for everyone. We mightn't always be as quick as if you went by a car, but we're having a go and trying to service the city the best we can," he said.

John-Paul Moloney is the Group Managing Editor of Australian Community Media. Before his current role he was ACT Editor for The Canberra Times, and before that deputy sports editor. He started at The Canberra Times as a sports reporter covering rugby union.

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