the SuperShuttle Ghost of NYC

the SuperShuttle Ghost of NYC


The Google Ridefinder is basically an shiny, but useless, advertisement for some taxi and airport shuttles. Now public transit would be another thing…

The intriguing thing for me is that Google has a source of semi-precise, semi-current information on the location of all these vehicles. The GPS traces of SuperShuttle run over the surface transport infrastructure, and in time the traces could reveal the streets. Like some of the plans for OpenStreetMap.

Peaking at the javascript, the ridefinder data source is here. Started pulling down the XML for NYC every 5 minutes (the minimum update interval for ridefinder) and gathered about 1500 files over the past 5 days. Approximately 25-40 vehicles listed at any point, so at least 40,000 coordinates. The feed does not individually identify each vehicle, so it would be tricky to try and trace points together based on proximity and trajectory. And at five minute granularity, tracks would cross corners, connect over tunnels, etc.

The resulting plot is posted above, and in original size. The outline of Manhattan is clear, with Central Park obvious. The avenues and Broadway are somewhat distinguished, and possibly extractable as the lines of highest density. Bridges are visible, as well as backup at the tunnel entrances. Ant like tracks to the airports are prominant. Strange anamolous high density points dot across Queens .. are these parking lots for unhired vehicles or coffee break spots?

Could see this data visualized, analysed in a number of ways. Time lapse revelation on the NYC ghost. Perhaps other airport shuttles would study the movements of SuperShuttle to gain a competitive edge.

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