Can Analyzing Tweets Help Us Create Better Transit Routes? [INFOGRAPHIC]

We’re all used to seeing the nice, straight lines of transit maps, showing us where the buses and subways travel and when they stop. But how do people actually use these transit vehicles?

An intrepid graphic designer decided to answer this question by plotting tens of thousands of tweets around cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago, and discovered that not all cities are actually providing transit where people are traveling.

Fast Company Design found these beautiful maps of the most-trafficked thoroughfares in major US cities, as visualized by Twitter use.

Eric Fischer used the Twitter API to gather tens of thousands of tweets that contained location information and plotted them onto maps of New York, San Francisco and Chicago. As Fast Company explains,

“The maps show where our buses and subways should be, if they conformed to the way we actually move and live.”

Take a look at the map of New York below. The darker, thicker lines represent more people traveling down a road, transit path or sidewalk.

As Fischer notes, the central spine down Broadway feeds off into several other prongs – all of which correspond to subway lines. New York is really built around the subway.

If you take a look at the other maps over at Fast Company, you’ll notice that not every city builds its transit around where people actually go – the BART in San Francisco, for instance, doesn’t serve the corridor between Berkeley and North Oakland, even though it is a popular route for urban travelers.

Using Twitter to measure behavior could prove to be useful in future city planning, as well as a whole host of public works projects.

(Top image: Vladitto via Shutterstock)