An animated look at TTC’s subways and LRT expansion by when they first opened. Includes 2017’s Finch West subway expansion and 2021’s Eglinton LRT expansion.
By Khakan Zulfiquar – Geovis Course Assignment, SA8905, Fall 2015 (Rinner)
As a course assignment, we were required to develop a professional-quality geographic visualization product that uses novel mapping technology to present a topic of our interest. I chose to create an animated-interactive map using CartoDB to visualize the construction of Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) stations from years 1954 to 2021. The interactive map can be found at https://zzzkhakan.cartodb.com/.
This idea was inspired by Simon Rogers who animated the London’s Rail System. It was interesting to see an animated map slowly draw together a footprint of an entire infrastructure system. A number of (non-interactive) animations of Toronto’s subway system development were collected by Spacing magazine in 2007 and can be viewed at http://spacing.ca/toronto/2007/09/21/ttc-subway-growth-animation-contest/.
A feature within CartoDB called “torque” was used to create the envisioned map. Torque is ideal for mapping large number of points over time. Torque has been famously used in media for mapping tweets as pings.
As a beginner to CartoDB, I had to go through tutorials and online courses to get familiar with the interface. As I became comfortable with CartoDB and its features, I recalled an example I had seen in the CartoDB gallery. It was Simon Roger’s London Rail System map. I knew exactly the kind of data I would need to make a similar map for TTC stations. There was an instant halt as the data was not readily available. Using Wikipedia, ttc.ca, and OpenStreetMap I was able to compile the data I required. The data was uploaded into CartoDB and the following map was created.
Tutorial / How-to-Use
For the heading numbers above, please find the associated instructions below.
- Title and Subtitle – Speaks for itself.
- Toronto Subway/ LRT Map [full resolution]- A Map of Toronto’s Subway and future LRT produced by the TTC. This map is the most common visual representation of TTC’s subways and LRT. The map’s color scheme was mimicked to help viewers, especially those familiar with TTC, make the transition to the animated map smoothly.
- Timeline – The timeline is in a continuous-loop. You can press pause to stop the animation and resume to start the animation again. You can also control the speed of the animation by sliding the play-bar back-and-forth.
- Hover Window – As you hover over the stations, a window will pop up automatically with the name of the station. No clicks required. The names will only appear if the “ttc_station” layer is switched on (more on this in step 7).
- Info Window – If you would like further information on a certain station, simply click on the station and you will be presented with the station’s name, line #, grade (above, at, or underground), platform type, and etc. The info window will only appear if the “ttc_station” layer is switched on (more on this in step 7).
- Legend – as the name implies…
- Layer Switch – a tool to turn on or off the layers being used in this map. The map was created with the intent to be both animated and interactive. The animated bit is the stations being plotted and the interactive part was for the user to find further information about the station. However, the animated bit is both intrusive and resource-heavy. Because of this, an option is being included to turn layers on-or-off as required. Be sure to try out the combinations.
- MAIN SHOW – the main map area has a beautiful CartoDB Dark Matter basemap with all of the TTC stations plotted. Feel free to zoom in and out.
Enjoy viewing and exploring.