I now write on Medium here. You can find some of my old essays below.

The Manhattan Fun Index

A measure of subway destinations on weekdays versus weekends I like data, especially when I find it in unexpected places. Our favorite urban bureaucracy the MTA has a wealth of data on subway and bus ridership just waiting to be parsed here. I suck at graphic design, but I'm just going to throw something out here in hope that it inspires someone with actual Adobe Fireworks skills.

While playing with this data, I came up with one interesting metric in particular -- something I call the "Fun Index," which you can see below. It's simply a comparison of ridership per subway station on weekdays versus weekends. Initially, the outcome seems obvious: stations that serve offices will be heavily trafficked during weekdays, with a substantial drop-off during weekends.

But what about other stations that don't serve Midtown East or the Financial District? It may be reasonable to expect those stations' traffic to be reasonably smooth, as residents use the subway to go to work on weekdays and to fun places on weekends. Since most people go to work every weekday but may not go out every weekend day, you'd expect a slight decrease in traffic on weekends. And that's exactly what you see in stops in the UES, UWS, Chelsea, Murray Hill and other heavily-residential areas.

But if not to work, where are people going on weekends? Interestingly, two subway stops in Manhattan actually show an increase in traffic on Saturday over an average weekday: Canal Street JMZNQRW6 and Prince Street NRW. If you view this data across all subway stations, you can create a "Fun Index" of sorts that compares New Yorkers' destinations during weekdays versus weekends. On weekdays, we go to Midtown and the Financial District. On weekends, we go to TriBeCa and SoHo. Those places are simply more fun.

Would love to see what others can do with the MTA's data.