Bus Stop Observations

data visualization, research, visual design

Winter 2014

Semi-finalist in the Adobe Design Achievement Awards in the category of Information Design


What do people do while they wait for the bus? This question was addressed by observing the Oakville college inter-city bus stop at 6:00PM over the span of approximately 6 weeks. Close attention was paid to the locations of commuters and their interactions with their environment, people, and technology.

Research Questions


General summary

  • Commuters are generally standing
  • People made many phone calls but still engaged in many conversations with people
  • Generally more females commute than males at this particular Sheridan college bus stop

Distribution of persons

This visualization focuses on the distribution and location of males and females around the bus stop space as well as their various activities. Only the data for the 5 most populous days were analyzed to produce this visualization.

  • Personal bubbles seem to be around 1.5m
  • Groups seem to be limited to 2-3 persons before they break off into smaller groups
  • Popular areas are those that afford leaning and sitting like the front of the enclosed shelter and the railings near the back
  • Females tend to sit more while males lean and pace more


Data collection

Data was collected over the span of ~6 weeks at 6pm for 30 minutes. It was collected using a map of the bus stop area with a x for male, or v for female. Detailed notes were also recorded about the actions and interactions of the people in the space.

I didn't know exactly what I was looking for so I tried to collect information about everything. I refined the data I focused on as I saw trends emerge.

After all the data was collected, I parsed it for patterns. I looked for interactions and behaviour that occurred frequently.


I wanted to present a quick overview of my data as well as a detailed view. Explorations revolved around visualizing the geographic data.

Initial sketches for visualizations

Data processing

I created a grid to help me synthesize the pages of map data that I'd collected. Numbers represent the number of people in each area while colours indicated activities.

The data was then transferred to excel where it was ordered and calculations performed.

Table containing the synthesized data

Project Critiques

Reflecting on this project now in 2015, there are many glaring issues that I see.