The Cost of Transit in the 21st Century

January 5, 2021

library(tidyverse)
library(ggrepel)
library(ggdark)
library(ggtext)

transit <- read_csv("https://raw.githubusercontent.com/rfordatascience/tidytuesday/master/data/2021/2021-01-05/transit_cost.csv")

transit_us_cn <- transit %>%
  filter(!is.na(e), country %in% c("US", "CN")) %>%
  mutate(
    length = as.numeric(length),
    real_cost = as.numeric(real_cost) / 1000,  # convert to billions of USD
    label = ifelse((country == "US") | (real_cost > 8) | (real_cost < 0.2 * length - 4), city, ""),
  )

transit_us_cn %>%
  group_by(country) %>%
  summarize(n_projects = n(), total_real_cost = sum(real_cost))
# A tibble: 2 x 3
  country n_projects total_real_cost
* <chr>        <int>           <dbl>
1 CN             253          1073. 
2 US              13            56.9
us_color <- "#ffb86c"
cn_color <- "#bd93f9"

ggplot(transit_us_cn, aes(length, real_cost, label = label)) +
  geom_hline(yintercept = 0, size = 0.3, color = "#6272a4") +
  geom_point(aes(color = country), size = 2, alpha = 0.8) +
  geom_text_repel(family = "Inter-Light", size = 3.5, color = "#f8f8f2", segment.color = "#f8f8f2", segment.alpha = 0.7) +
  scale_y_continuous(labels = function(x) ifelse(x > 0, paste0("$", x, "B"), paste0("$", x)), breaks = seq(0, 16, by = 1)) +
  scale_x_continuous(breaks = seq(0, 80, by = 10)) +
  scale_color_manual(values = c(cn_color, us_color)) +
  guides(color = FALSE) +
  labs(
    title = "The Cost of Transit in the 21<sup>st</sup> Century",
    subtitle = glue::glue("The <span style='color:{us_color};font-family:Inter-Medium;'>United States</span> has allocated $57B to 13 urban rail projects, mostly in New York and<br />California. No project exceeds 10 km and the most expensive project costs $11B for 2.8<br />km of railway. In comparison, <span style='color:{cn_color};font-family:Inter-Medium;'>China</span> has allocated over $1T to 253 urban rail projects,<br />the longest of which, in Beijing, runs 78.6 km and costs $15.2B."), 
    y = NULL, x = "Length of railway (km)",
    caption = "Data from transitcosts.com\nRecreate this graphic at nsgrantham.com/transit-costs"
  ) +
  dark_theme_minimal(base_family = "Inter-Light", base_size = 16) +
  theme(
    plot.title = element_markdown(family = "Inter-Medium", color = "#f8f8f2", size = 22, margin = margin(0, 0, 0.5, 0, unit = "line")),
    plot.title.position = "plot",
    plot.subtitle = element_markdown(color = "#f8f8f2", size = 14, lineheight = 1.2, margin = margin(0, 0, 1, 0, unit = "line")),
    plot.margin = margin(1.5, 1.5, 1, 1.5, unit = "line"),
    plot.background = element_rect(fill = "#282a36", color = "#282a36"),
    axis.title.x = element_text(margin = margin(1, 0, 0.5, 0, unit = "line")),
    panel.grid.major.y = element_line(color = "#44475a", size = 0.3),
    panel.grid.major.x = element_line(color = "#44475a", size = 0.3),
    panel.grid.minor.y = element_blank(),
    panel.grid.minor.x = element_blank()
  )

ggsave("transit-costs.png", width = 8.5, height = 11)

Transit costs in the US are much higher for shorter railways than in China


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