Posts Tagged: Google Insight



Public Transportation’s New Years Mystery

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how the differing usage of the terms public transit, transport and transportation led to very different levels of interest across english-speaking cultures around the world. I had planned to follow-up on that post earlier, but such follow-up admittedly slipped my mind due to the large surge of interest the Calgary gondola concept generated.

As such, I’d like to follow-up today. Take a look at these graphs:


The three graphs are from Google Insight and show the relative interest in the search terms “public transportation,” “public transport,” and “public transit” across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Notice anything odd?

For some reason, interest (as defined as volume of web searched via Google) in public transportation, transport, transit, whatever is intensely cyclical. Even more odd is that the cycles are reversed depending on what half of the globe you’re in.

Strangely, in America and Canada, interest is almost always at its lowest during December and January and highest during the summer months of July and August.

At first I assumed it had something to do with the Christmas holidays. After all, transit usage would understandably be at its lowest during the New Years season. But that doesn’t explain the other half of the mystery:

Australian interest in public transport, conversely, is at its highest during December and January and almost always lowest during the months of July and August. The exact opposite of that which is observed in North America.

Since Australia observes the same December/January holidays as North Americans, there is therefore no reason to believe the holidays have any bearing on web-related interest in public transit.

So then the question is this: What’s causing this phenomenon and why is it different in North America than Australia?

My guess is it has to do with two things:

  • The seasons are reversed in North America and Australia. But that doesn’t entirely do it for me as Australian seasons are far more uniform than much of the populated areas of North America.
  • The school years are reversed in North America and Australia.

But that’s as far as I’ve got. Any ideas?



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