A DataLA Summer Academy Story at LADOT Transit

As a DataLA Summer Academy Fellow, I spent the summer working with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) Transit Development Division. Before starting this position, the only thing I knew about transportation in Los Angeles was using my Metro UPass. I was eager to learn more and put my data skills to use.

LADOT’s Transit Development Division oversees transit services in the City of Los Angeles including the Downtown DASH and Community DASH as well as the Commuter Express and Cityride programs. It has been fascinating to learn about what goes into planning and operating public transit. There are so many factors to consider such as policy, safety, council district, existing structures, and construction.

My focus at LADOT was to use data and technology to increase ridership for the DASH. I was tasked with analyzing 11 DASH bus routes for monthly ridership and creating visualizations to help developers with planning new routes. I then created an interactive map to show LA residents the accessibility of exploring Downtown via DASH.

I was inspired to develop the story map after taking the DASH Observatory bus to go to the Griffith Observatory. It was so convenient and only 35 cents with my TAP card (50 cents with cash). I am now a DASH convert, and I want everyone to experience the ease and convenience of commuting on the DASH. I leveraged the DASH maps I created to make an the Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) Story. This story map is designed to:

1. Inspire new and longtime LA residents to get out and explore the city and feel more connected to the city as they discover and rediscover the sites.

2. Demonstrate how accessible and affordable it is to get around Downtown Los Angeles with public transportation (LADOT DASH buses) and not deal with the stress of parking and parking fees.

3. Get more people to use public transportation to get more cars off the road, thus reducing air pollution (I am a Master of Public Health student after all).

Introduction tab of “Downtown DASH: Create Your DTLA Story”

I used Esri’s Story Map feature to create an interactive experience for the user. The destinations are organized under Landmarks, Food/Shopping, Venues, and Museum and Parks tabs. If you click on the name of the destination, the map zooms in on the location and the pop-up provides the street address. Clicking on the “more info” hyperlink will take you to the website of that destination.

Click on the destination name for the map to zoom-in to the location.

Under each destination I listed the DASH routes that have the nearest stops to the location. If you click on the DASH route, the map will zoom-in to the stop. The pop-up provides the DASH stop number, name, and direction.

Click on the given DASH route to see the nearest stop to the location

I also embedded the LADOT Transit live map website in the Real-time DASH Arrival tab, so users can see when the next bus will be arriving at a stop. I also embedded the LADOT Transit websites for DASH Schedules and General DASH Info. When the information updates on the websites, it will be updated in this application.

Select the DASH route to see when the next bus is coming.

A DTLA Story tab showcases the other photos I took because just one picture did not do enough justice to some of the destinations. I want to inspire LA residents to get out and experience all the beauty and activity in Downtown Los Angeles.

See all the photos I took in “A DTLA Story.”
Click on the location icon and a pin will be dropped on your location. Then you can see the DASH routes around you.

I also examined the ridership of 11 DASH bus routes. I had to extract data from a system that tracks boarding and off-boarding (alighting) and then organize and process the data to get the total monthly ridership for each stop. I created layers of the DASH stops using coordinates from my colleague who was updating all DASH stop coordinates. I verified where passengers were boarding/off-boarding and accounted for any unknowns listed. Using the layers, I created a visualization of ridership to help developers with planning new routes. They could see which stops had the highest concentration of boarding and off-boarding and which stops were low-performing.

Example of a map with the monthly boarding for each stop using graded symbols

I gained so much knowledge about how the City of Los Angeles operates. My mentors at LADOT have given me such an appreciation for all that goes into transit operations. With the biweekly meetings with the other DataLA Summer Academy interns, I learned about their projects in Finance, Sanitation, Planning and other LADOT divisions. My peers were an excellent source for feedback and support when I was working on my projects. The Mayor’s Data Team provided technical training, which accelerated my ArcGIS skills and analytical skills. Another highlight was the Netflix Headquarters field trip.

Thank you to the Mayor’s Data Team and DataLA Summer Academy fellows for a great data-filled summer!

I will be staying on at LADOT as an intern for the fall semester. I hope to continue to make more presentations like this for the new DASH routes that will be coming out. I truly believe that when you have experiences and create stories, you build a stronger connection to your city.