Cramming People Into Tiny Little Tubes

I was in London for work two weeks ago and our main office is near Farringdon Station, one of the new hubs of London transport when Crossrail goes live later this decade. Earlier this week, Crossrail’s official name was unveiled: Elizabeth Line. Last year, the Economist had an article about ridership of the London Underground and how cramped it is. (I only rode it once during rush-hour and that was when I was on holiday.) The idea is that the Elizabeth Line will ease congestion for those people trying to cross London east-to-west both within the city and from the outer suburbs. Plus to and from this little airport called Heathrow.

Anyway, the article made use of a really smart heatmap to illustrate the number of riders in 15-minute intervals. It then highlights the traditional “rush hour”. The highlight illustrates that rush hour in London is more like rush-three-hours. Overall a smart piece.

And as bonus points for their designer, look at how they segment out the difference between 15-minutes and hours. Note how it is just a pixel or two greater gap, but that makes it far easier to carry the time chunks into the middle of the chart.

Underground ridership
Underground ridership

Credit for the piece goes to the Economist’s graphics department.

Author: Brendan Barry

I am a graphic designer who focuses on information design. My day job? I am the data visualisation manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (This blog is my something I do on my own time and does not represent the views of the Fed, blah blah blah legal stuff.) And with my main interest in information design—be it in the shape of clear charts, maps, diagrams, or wayfinding systems—I am fortunate that my day job focuses on data visualisation. Outside of work, I try to stay busy with personal design work. Away from the world of design, I enjoy cooking and reading and am interested in various subjects from history and geography to politics to science to the arts. And I allow all of them to influence my work.

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