Advantages of the total station over levels
Both have there place. I would not necessarily say that one replaced the other. I do survey work and use GPS, total station, and level for different tasks.
One benefit of a total station over the level is the fact that it only takes one person to perform a survey task. Also, the total station can take pictures, measure and store vertical and horizontal angles, etc.. Also, the total stations have great vertical and horizontal control. Setup on a known point, shoot back to another known point and go! Much like GPS the total station is run by a data collector, which does just that for you. All your work is saved on the data collector. Points, distances, angles, elevations… its all saved for you.
With a Level, you have great vertical control (accuracy) if you don’t factor in human error. The Level doesn’t save anything for you. One person has to wave a rod, and the other has to read and log readings down in a field book. Which is an extra step and adds to chances for errors.
Levels are great tools that aren’t going anywhere. They will always have their place in elevation control and survey work. These are the advantages of the total station over levels.