GTFS Google vs General – What’s in a name?

For those who are only just finding out about GTFS, there is often a little confusion about what the acronym stands for.  Variations include:

  • General Transit Feed Specification (Correct)
  • General Transit File Specification
  • General Transport (or Transportation) Feed Specification
  • Google Transport File (or File) Specification
  • Google Transit Feed Specification (Historical)

According to Wikipedia, GTFS was first conceived by Bibiana McHugh, an IT Manager at the TriMet transit agency in the Portland metropolitan area (Oregon, USA) and was developed by Google and Portland TriMet.  It was originally known as the Google Transit Feed Specification.

In October 2009, it was proposed by Joe Hughes from Google to change the name from Google Transit Feed Specification to the General Transit Feed Specification.    Joe’s motivation for the change was that “when Google first worked with early transit partners to create the original GTFS spec they gave the document the descriptive title “Google Transit Feed Specification”, since it was simply the feed specification consumed by Google Transit. In the years since then, many more applications had started consuming data in this format, and many transit agencies had begun using GTFS to share their routes and schedules with all application developers, not just Google.”  He went on to say “It’s time to bring the name in line with the current state of affairs.”

Almost six years later and now GTFS is being used for large and small transit agencies, full website and mobile apps, on the majority of the global search engines and to support a variety of uses from accessible schedules to availability of public amenities.

It now truly is a “General Transit Feed Specification”.

 

 

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