Transit Night at the OpenGov Hack Night



At this week’s OpenGov Hack Night, we had presentations from Ed Zotti and Joe Iacobucci about transit and data in Chicago.

Joe Iacobucci is a Chicago transit enthusiast and gave a presentation on the link between public transit and economic development.

As an example, Iacobucci used a site called Mapnificent to show a locations access to transit by calculating how far a traveller could go by using public transit. Mapnificent uses transit data to calculate all the areas that can be reached by public transit in a given period of time.

For example, a rider that starts in the loop could go as far as Wilmette, Maywood, Homewood, or Calumet City in just 30 minutes. (Even without the Metra, a rider could still reach Evanston, Jefferson Park, or Englewood.) In comparison, a rider who starts in Cicero would only be able to reach as far as Greektown or Melrose Park in 30 minutes.

When you compare this information to real estate prices on sites like Zillow, you can see that the areas with greater transit options tend to have higher home values.

We also had a presentation from Ed Zotti, editor of The Straight Dope and assistant to the legendary Cecil Adams. Zotti ran through a recent history of Chicago Transit in terms of ridership capacity. Zotti has written extensively about transit in Chicago including a Chicago Reader feature on How to fix the El.

Resources for developers interested in transit issues.

Chicago has 43 sets transit data available to developers on the city’s data portal. This data includes everything from transit routes, bus ridership, to the annual boarding totals all the way from 1988. The CTA also has three APIs for developers to use in their own apps. These include bus tracker, train tracker, and a feed of all customer alerts.


The CTA even has instructions on how to build your own CTA Transit Info Display.

The next OpenGov Chicago Meetup:

The next OpenGov Chicago meetup will be this Thursday at the Chicago Community Trust. We’ve invited three speakers to give thoughtful critiques of the open government movement in Chicago. These speakers include:

If you aren’t able to attend in person, the meeting will be live streamed on the Smart Chicago Collaborative blog.