jakecopp 8 days ago

I built this side project to graph bus congestion in Sydney. Each line on the graph (a Marey chart) represents a bus completing its route (percentage) over time.

  • jahnu 8 days ago

    Have things improved since I lived there in 2010?

    The busses were constantly late (sometimes waiting an hour for a bus from Darlinghurst to the eastern suburbs on the weekends) Unbelievable noisy. Walking through the CBD on a workday morning was deafening. Engines with no acoustic dampening at all. Reckless drivers. Gave up trying to ride a bike. Just too dangerous and aggressive bus and car drivers :(

    • Aramgutang 8 days ago

      I definitely don't find myself complaining about them as I much as did 10 years ago. Back then, one of my local bus stops in Newtown had "what is the point of this?" written in marker over the timetable, and everyone who saw it smiled in agreement.

      However, this could be explained by today's GPS tracking data, rather than improvements in reliability. When you open your transit app, you want to know when the next bus is, so you can find an alternative if the wait is too long. When it tells you the next one is in 3 minutes (which is an accurate estimate because of the GPS), you don't actually care if that bus is running 18 minutes later than originally scheduled.

      For the bus I use for my commute, I don't leave either the house or the office until I see its GPS tracker pass certain points of the route. I've never had to wait for more than 3 minutes at a bus stop doing that. On occasions where there is no GPS feed, I treat that bus as "theoretical", and don't risk going out to try to catch it at its scheduled time, unless I'm desperate. But every time I did risk it, it ended up arriving right on schedule.

      So I'd say the experience of catching buses has profoundly improved, but not necessarily because the reliability has improved.

      And 10 years ago, we didn't have Opal readers, which are great, since together with having digital driving licenses on our phones, it has allowed many of us to completely forgo carrying a wallet.

      Bus drivers are still as reckless and grumpy as they used to be though.

      • jahnu 7 days ago

        Good to hear, thanks. I forgot of course that smartphone were barely a thing back then so I can see how this improves choices massively.

    • jakecopp 8 days ago

      Yep definitely better! The 370 isn't anywhere as bad as it was for example. I don't think you'll wait for more than 30 mins unless you're deep in suburbia.

      > The buses were constantly late

      Yep still happens, though the frequency is quite high so it's not too frustrating

      > Unbelievable noisy. Walking through the CBD on a workday morning was deafening.

      Yep still very loud on the hills, though electric buses are being rolled out. George St is now pedestrianised with the tram so it's less noisy.

      > Gave up trying to ride a bike. Just too dangerous and aggressive bus and car drivers :(

      Cycling infrastructure is getting a lot better! BikeEast (https://www.bikeast.org.au/) do a lot of advocacy in the eastern suburbs. Clover Moore has done amazing things for the CBD.

      • jahnu 7 days ago

        Nice to see cycling getting a boost!

bradrn 8 days ago

I like this, as a Sydneysider who’s always been fond of Marey’s chart! However, I suspect there are some bugs: e.g. when I try 197, only two non-overlapping busses are shown despite the presence of several on the map, and 674 gives only a small line at the 100% mark and nothing else.

  • jakecopp 8 days ago


    > However, I suspect there are some bugs:

    Yep I wouldn't be surprised! The routes are statically generated so if there are updates (I'm not sure how often that happens) the progress lines won't be correct.

    Thanks for the report though, I'll try looking into it when I have time.

    • bradrn 8 days ago

      Thanks for such a prompt reply! It would be great if you get some time to fix this — I’m really interested in seeing what my local busses look like.

      Also, while I’m thinking about it: have you considered graphing trains too? I know they have live data available too, and they (unsurprisingly) seem to be more consistent than busses in my experience. (No pressure intended, just throwing the idea out there…)

      • jakecopp 8 days ago

        No worries!

        > have you considered graphing trains too?

        I'm very keen to! It's actually an identical data format, I just need to change the endpoint from /buses to /trains essentially. Though I would also need to store 2 times the number of protocol buffers (which come in every 7 seconds) and do some UI work.

        So many things to do, so little time :D

chewxy 8 days ago

So I just discovered that there are multiple bus routes with the same number as the one that I usually would use. That's crazy.

(also the marey chart doesn't load for 425 or 412 or 433)

  • jakecopp 8 days ago

    Is that true or according to sydneytransitgraph.com?

    Might be a bug if the latter!

    • chewxy 8 days ago

      SydneyTransitGraph.com - there are multiple bus routes for 412, 423, 433

      • mercurialuser 8 days ago

        My daughter is studying in Sydney. Her bus does change itinerary during school times: it makes a longer journey to onboard students.

        Illawong to Lucas Heights...

        She told us drivers are nice...

      • Aramgutang 8 days ago

        Those other routes aren't in Sydney, though. Regional bus route numbers sometimes overlap with Sydney route numbers.

dcw303 8 days ago

Where is the data sourced from? I ask because of an experience I had recently when visiting Sydney. I was using transportnsw.info while waiting at a stop at Wynyard.

Eventually it told me that the bus I was waiting for had been and left, which seemed odd because I could see it still sitting idle further down the street. It eventually pulled up to the terminal about five minutes late, but the app did not update to reflect this.

  • contingencies 8 days ago

    AFAIK a lot of dated bus systems have radio polling is based on signal loss. Under such a system, a stop sends out a weak stop-ID signal. If buses sit around the periphery of natural propagation they may 'drop in' and 'drop out' of a stop prematurely, which can trigger false readings. Unsure if that's how Sydney runs. Most systems now use GPS which is also susceptible to drift if not properly written (probably common). FWIW I had prior exposure to the RTA's traffic management systems in Redfern (PDP-11 still running!) ~2001, which also housed the State Emergency Service (SES) wireless system, but AFAIK no public transport.

NIL8 8 days ago

Googled "Marey chart" and "Marey diagram" and your site showed up on the front page. That's impressive as it looks like you only published a day ago!

frob 8 days ago

Busses are bosons; they tend to condensate.