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Anthony M. Townsend 

Urbanist in Residence

Jacobs Institute Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Techh


NYCBusWatcher: Tools for Longitudinal Tracking, Visualization, Analysis and Predictive Modeling of New York City's Bus Network


This presentation will provide an overview of ongoing work coordinated by the Jacobs Institute's Urban Tech Hub to preserve a record of New York City's bus system performance during the pandemic and recovery, and develop new metrics, visualizations, and predictive models of bus service. We will describe the Urban Tech Hub's work to develop a platform for retrieving bus position and passenger count data from the MTA BusTime API, archival and programmatic access through our own API, and provide front-end web-based tools for data exploration. Additionally, we will share work-in-progress from two Cornell Tech master's Specialization Project (INFO7900) teams using this data to: evaluate the impact of bus rapid transit (BRT) improvements in 2020 along the East 149th Street corridor in the Bronx; and, to model the impact of subway disruptions on crowding and travel speed on nearby bus services. We will also discuss proposed work in which we hope to explore the potential for this data to reveal the impacts of climate change and severe weather on bus system performance, and the role of infrastructure improvements like bus lanes and shelters in enhancing the resilience of bus services to such shocks.


  1. Lars Kouwenhoven, Cornell Tech,

  2. Jeremy Shaffer, Cornell Tech,

  3. Jamie Geng, Cornell Tech,



Dr. Anthony Townsend works at the intersection of urbanization and digital technology. He is Urbanist in Residence at Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute, where his research focuses on scenarios and ethical frameworks for urban tech innovation. Anthony is the author of two books, Ghost Road: Beyond the Driverless Car (2020) and Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for A New Utopia (2013), both published by W.W. Norton & Co. His consultancy, Star City Group, works around the world with industry, government and philanthropy on urban tech foresight, policy, and planning studies.

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