Like any good website owner and author, I track statistics (or analytics as people like to call them now). The most important information the reports tell me is how people found my site: either through keyword searches, or links from related webpages.

Recently, a visitor came across my site because of a search for “amtrak routes gis.” I suspect they were looking for shapefiles they could load into Geographic Information System software containing Amtrak routes and stations. My blog showed up on the second results page in Google and they came to my post, “Why Amtrak’s not on time,” about the factors that influence the passenger rail company’s timeliness. The page doesn’t have what the visitor wants.

I decided to update my page, “Find urban data,” to aid future visitors. Also, if one person is looking for this information, it’s likely that others want it, too. I found the information, “amtrak routes gis,” in two places and in two formats.

First, the United States Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics publishes national data in the “National Transportation Atlas.” You can find a shapefile with Amtrak stations. For Amtrak routes you must download the railway network shapefiles and then filter the information for the attributes that describe Amtrak.

The second source is an interactive KML file (more about KML) that you can load into Google Earth, view in Google Maps, or manipulate in another KML-compatible application.