The National Academies

Transit IDEA J-04/IDEA 58 [Completed (IDEA)]

Google Transit Data Tool for Small Transit Agencies
[ TCRP J-04 (Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis--The Transit IDEA Program) ]

  Project Data
Staff Responsibility: Harvey Berlin

IDEA Concept and Product
This project developed a tool to enter, export and host the transit data needed to participate in Google Transit. This tool enables small transit agencies to get their transit data on Google Transit. While mid to large size transit agencies often have the resources to provide Google Transit data feeds in accordance with the Google Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), many small transit agencies do not have the necessary resources to enter, export, and host the required transit data feed or do not have their data in the required format.
This tool is made available in the form of a Web-based application and released under an open source software license. That provides for the resulting tool to be open and transferable.
The tool is available in two alternative configurations. Transit agencies can choose which configuration best fits their needs and circumstances:(1) configuration hosted at a contractor's website, which minimizes the equipment requirements for the transit agency to a personal computer with Internet access; and (2) local Web application installation by the transit agency user. This Web application could be downloaded from the project Web site. The Web application architecture is innovative as it is platform-independent (MS Windows, Linux, or others), as well as independent of which database management system (SQL Server, MySQL, or others) is used. In this configuration option, hosting of GTFS data feeds would be provided by the transit agency.
Completed Investigation
This project included Web application implementation and transit agency application testing during the beta test stage of this project. Once the software design was verified and validated, the transit agency user application was hosted at the contractor's website. The Web application was designed to allow transit agency participants access to the user application. The Web application and the product data feed out are also available for others to use on another organizations server.
Web-based trip planners are used in providing passenger information, which helps gain and retain transit passengers. Even though Google does not charge transit agencies for the Google Transit Web-based trip planner (http://www.google.com/transit), there is still effort and resources needed for transit agencies to provide GTFS data feeds to Google. Databases required to provide GTFS data feeds are typically out of reach for many small transit agencies, due to training needs, costs, or the complexity of the solution. This project results reduce the cost and effort for providing GTFS data feeds.
There are numerous small transit agencies that can benefit from such this tool. With this package, a small transit agency would have a tool to make their schedule and route information available on Google Transit, Google Maps, and Google Earth.Should other online mapping organizations decide to include transit information in their products, it would also be possible for them to use the GTFS feed.
The contractor's final report is available.

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