Diversity & Inclusion
DEI / Transportation

Check out this data viz on SEPTA’s elevator accessibility

Software engineers Ather Sharif and James Tyack tracked which stations saw the most outages across 24 months with their open source transportation tool, Unlock Philly.

A SEPTA train chugs away from Overbrook Station. (Video by YouTube user Jarrett Stewart, used under a Creative Commons license)

This editorial article is a part of Technical.ly's Accessibility month of our editorial calendar.

Not every transit stop in Philadelphia is wheelchair accessible, but SEPTA riders who use wheelchairs rely on those that are to get around. And when elevators are down? Access to the city at large is interrupted.

Along with software engineer and civic hacker James Tyack, Ather Sharif — former Philly resident, Comcast engineer, Ph.D. student at the University of Washington, founder of accessible tech initiative EvoXLabs — started tracking which stations with elevators saw more outages than others via an open source transportation tool called Unlock Philly.

From March 1, 2017, through March 31, 2019, here’s some of the data they found about the wheelchair-accessible stations that operate on Regional Rail, the Broad Street Line and the Market Frankford Line (MFL):

  • 56th Street Station on the MFL saw the most elevator outages.
  • 8th Street Station on the MFL saw the most consecutive days affected by elevator outages.
  • The MFL’s elevators tend to break down more on Fridays.

There’s a heck of a lot more explanation from Sharif on how Unlock Philly started and how the team analyzed its data, plus some lovely data visualizations, at Sharif’s Medium essay below.

See the data
Companies: SEPTA
Series: Accessibility Month 2019
People: Ather Sharif / James Tyack
Projects: Unlock Philly

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