Trillium’s GTFS Manager was the first web-based software to create and edit General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data.  -  Photo: Trillium

Trillium’s GTFS Manager was the first web-based software to create and edit General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data.

Photo: Trillium

Optibus has released its latest ebook, “How to Report GTFS Data to the US National Database,” which helps agencies with the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) new mandate.

The FTA is required to collect “geographic service area coverage” data for public transit, and the administration is doing so by collecting General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data beginning in Fiscal Year 2023/24.

“The primary purpose of the report is to make it easier for transit agencies to comply with this requirement,” said Aaron Antrim, founder of Trillium Solutions, Inc., an Optibus company.

But What Exactly is GTFS Data?

According to Optibus’ guide, the GTFS is an industry standard for sharing transit data. It enables interoperability between software and systems in public transport.

Hundreds of transit systems in the U.S. and thousands of systems in the world publish GTFS data. 

This format enables the same data to be used by hundreds of applications, including mobile apps such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Transit. 

Development of this industry standard is facilitated by MobilityData.

GTFS encompasses two related types of data:

  • GTFS Schedule data includes routes, stops, schedules, calendars, fares, station pathways, and other information that is known in advance of transit operation.
  • GTFS Real-time data includes service changes, vehicle positions, advisories, and arrival estimates (ETAs), published during transit operations.

“The GTFS data is broadly useful,” Antrim said. “Agencies that publish GTFS data are investing in growing ridership and in building an interoperable tech stack. This reporting requirement adds even more momentum to the industry adoption of GTFS.”

Optibus software exports GTFS data. Above, ridership data is overlayed on stops and routes.  -  Photo: Optibus

Optibus software exports GTFS data. Above, ridership data is overlayed on stops and routes.

Photo: Optibus

Optibus’ Steps to Compliance

Optibus and Trillium are no strangers to placing focus on GTFS. 

Optibus’ ebook outlines four steps to comply with the data requirement: 

  1. Check for readiness
  2. Create GTFS data
  3. Publish GTFS data
  4. Report to NTD

Optibus and Trillium have found other ways to build applications on  GTFS.

Trillium’s GTFS-Flex makes demand-response transportation easier to discover, understand, and use. 

GTFS-Flex builds off the GTFS and expands the data specification to describe more types of service and incorporate them into trip planning applications.

Optibus products and partners also support GTFS-realtime, an industry-standard format for real-time transit information

GTFS-realtime is a companion to the GTFS schedule data (stop locations, routes, schedules, and fares) and is managed by MobilityData, according to Optibus. 

This format aims to rebuild ridership following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FTA requirement to collect GTFS data from transit agencies was also in response to the pandemic, according to Antrim.

“Along with this GTFS requirement, the FTA also finalized its sample-based ridership reporting,” Antrim said. “That will require transit agencies to submit weekly ridership reporting. What that will do is allow the FTA to get much more rapid feedback about the status of transit ridership as we rebuild post pandemic.”

You can read the full Optibus ebook here.

About the author
Louis Prejean

Louis Prejean

Assistant Editor

Assistant editor Louis Prejean works on Metro Magazine and Automotive Fleet. The Louisiana native is now covering the fleet industry after years of radio and reporting experience.

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