GTFS defines a common format for public transportation schedules and associated geographic information. GTFS "feeds" let public transit agencies publish their transit data and developers write applications that consume the data in an interoperable way. The initial and main benefit of this standard included a free online trip planner available to the public to look up transit information and plan transit trips. It has since grown to other applications including multi-modal trip planning tools, mobile apps, maps, timetable creation, interactive voice response (IVR), accessibility for riders with disabilities, planning and analysis, visualization, public information displays, and use with real-time transit information. 1
The success of GTFS is widely recognized. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in the San Francisco Bay Area gathers static GTFS data from 30 agencies and GTFS real-time data from 18 of these agencies via an online interface and validates, processes, integrates, and enriches the data. Then it provides data from a centralized, cloud-based Regional Transit Database to data consumers via data feeds and standard APIs using NETEX. Agencies are also able to submit service alert data, which get published from the system in the GTFS real-time service alert format. As such, data consumers can use one single GTFS feed for the entire region instead of using 30 different feeds. The regional feed also allows MTC to analyze transfers between systems to improve service at the regional level. Since 2016, MTC has de-emphasized app development (e.g., 511 mobile app) and started focusing on building a robust centralized data warehouse and standardized APIs, which resulted in a cost savings to the organization.
- 1Google. (2020, May 26). GTFS Reference. Retrieved June 4, 2020, from Google Developers: https://developers.google.com/transit/gtfs/reference/