Photo courtesy of AC Transit.

Photo courtesy of AC Transit.

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) announced its contribution to the Open Source Software Initiative. Open Source is a global movement that has gained acceptance as a way to produce high-quality software without the cost associated with commercial solutions.

“Historically, transit agencies across the state experience limited information technology resources,” says AC Transit Board president H. E. Christian Peeples. “We found even when we’re able to allocate precious dollars, commercial software applications either did not exist or were insufficient for the demands of public transit.”

AC Transit’s efforts to develop open source software started a few years ago, when staff engineers began designing and building a platform of custom software. Their primary focus was using common data sets that can be readily shared and used outside AC Transit walls.

AC Transit’s first publicly available application is for bus operators and heavy duty coach mechanics training. The application is written in C# language on the .NET framework. The result is an application adaptable to the needs of other agencies, including course management, course instructor management, apprenticeship management, and pre-built SQL reports for monitoring attendance, course rosters, completed training, and work order history.

“The operations and maintenance application is only the beginning,” says AC Transit general manager Michael Hursh. “Our resourceful engineers have developed several applications that will soon be available, without a fee, to public and private transit agencies, vendors, students, and software developers alike. Our goal is to launch an intellectual properties exchange that reduces cost and maximizes value in the transit industry and beyond.”

To minimize any software technical interruptions, AC Transit engaged in beta-testing of open source applications for several months. Beta-testing allowed staff engineers to put applications into the “real world” for review and feedback.

The GitHub website will distribute AC Transit’s open source software. Those seeking to use the free applications will be asked to agree to some license conditions.