Number crunching and buses!

A few days ago, Translink announced that they would be releasing their bus, train and seabus route information in a sta ndard format. A list of every bus stop, route, time, etc might not seem overly exciting to most people, but I love datasets. Admittedly, I often don't know exactly what to do with datasets, but that's hardly the real issue here. Anyhow, this seemed like a promising thing for me to do and I downloaded it, unzipped it and spent a couple of hours prepping a Rails project to serve as a new home for it.

Roughly 500 routes, 8700 stops, 126000 trips and 3.4 million timepoints at those stops. Not a whopping amount of data, but enough to start having some fun. My initial plan was just to be able to plot the stops for a given route onto google maps. That's done in it's ugly glory at my stopfinder. If you want to search for a 1 or 2 digit route, put in the leading 0's. Sorry, haven't done that yet.

My next steps are going to be to publish a number of primitive operations on the data with results in JSON format. Things like 'closest stop to lat,lon', 'how to get from stop x to stop y', and other similar sorts of things. The idea being that if I can build up a suitable library of common operations on the dataset, any future ideas that do come to mind should be relatively easy to implement.

That and if anyone does want to do some data mining, well, this is an option. I'll post any updates, formats and that sort of thing on this site as I work through it. In general, the services will be pretty much simply URL based and will return raw JSON. Nothing special, but fairly easy to parse and work with. I have a relatively irrational dislike of XML which I will probably get over at some point, but it will take someone making a very good argument.