Category Archives: RealTime Transit Status

Articles real-time transit status updates for your public transport, shuttles, buses, ferries or trains.

GTFS Tools – GTFS Builder, GTFS Editor and GTFS-Realtime

Getting your bus, train, ferry and public transport onto maps and apps requires GTFS Tools.  AddTransit has a set of GTFS tools that allows you start simply and then build up to more complex realtime updates.

GTFS Tools

Our GTFS tools include:

  • GTFS Builder / GTFS Editor
  • GTFS-Realtime Status updates
  • GTFS-Realtime Vehicle Tracking

Let’s discuss each of these in turn…..

GTFS Builder / GTFS Editor

GTFS Editor, GTFS Builder & other GTFS Tools

Our GTFS builder / GTFS editor allows you to create the initial GTFS file.   We step you through your agency details, the scheduled days that you operate, the routes, individual trips and stops information.  This allows you to easily build your GTFS file.  If you have existing data in stored in files (e.g. CSV, MS Excel), we even be able to upload the data for you and greatly speed up the creation of the GTFS file.  Once all the necessary information has been entered, then you can create your first GTFS file.  We can host the GTFS file for you, or you can host it on your own servers.  When your stops, routes or schedules change, you can easily log into our secure online website and use the GTFS Builder / GTFS editor to update your data.  When you are ready you can also add information about transfers, wheelchair and bike capacities, fares and route maps.

GTFS-Realtime Status Updates

GTFS-Realtime status updates

When delays affect a planned service, GTFS-Realtime status updates allow you to keep your passengers informed. You can provide customer information on what is causing the delay and what the effect will be on passenger’s travel.  The level of detail you provide is up to you. You can even provide a URL to pages on your company’s website to give even more detail.  AddTransit for GTFS-Realtime status updates can be provided to all online map, apps and journey planning providers.  This allows your passengers to choose their preferred devices and software providers.  Allowing your status updates to be displayed on many different online maps, apps and journey planners will result in the maximum number of customers being informed.

GTFS-Realtime Vehicle Tracking

GTFS-Realtime Vehicle Tracking

GTFS-Realtime Vehicle Tracking solves the problem of customers not knowing when their bus, train or ferry is about to arrive.  Using a free App on a GPS enabled smartphone with secure AddTransit login details, you can upgrade your AddTransit account to include GTFS-Realtime Vehicle Tracking.  Initially, your staff can monitor your vehicles on the AddTransit website. When you are ready, you can also provide vehicle positions in a GTFS -Realtime file for all online map, apps and journey planning providers to use.

Related Posts:

https://addtransit.com/blog/tag/gtfs-editor/

Online Real-time Vehicle Tracking Software

Online real-time vehicle tracking software gives you the ability to view your bus positions, locate your trains and monitor your ferries or trams wherever they are.  Additionally, you can provide this same information to passengers so that they can plan their journeys and so that their friends and families can have the security of knowing when they will depart and arrive.

Real Time Vehicle Tracking Software

Vehicle Tracking Software – The Technology

AddTransit’s technology is easy to deploy.  There is no need for IT consultants or hardware that costs tens of thousands of dollars.  Instead we just add an app to a GPS enabled smartphone or tablet which is carried on the vehicle.  With the accuracy of smartphones now being approximately the size of a vehicle in an area with good mobile/cell coverage, this enables the vehicle location to easily be pinpointed.

The smartphone or tablet, then sends a secure signal using the HTTPS protocol to our servers, which then display the location on a map.

Secure and Accurate Vehicle Tracking

To ensure secure and accurate vehicle tracking, each vehicle is has its a unique identifier (e.g. a Licence Plate or Registration Number) entered and the on board company representative (e.g. driver, pilot, or other staff member) has to login.  Key trip details are also selected so that you can know which vehicle, company representative is currently logging the vehicles location.

Online  Vehicle Tracking- The Display

Tracking bus positions, or other vehicles locations is then as simple as logging into the AddTransit website.  The location of the bus, ferry, train or tram are shown on map and update at regular intervals. Depending on your need, you can select to monitor a particular vehicle, trip or route.  As the solution is online and real-time, you can monitor your vehicles from wherever your staff need to.  For example, your staff could monitor your vehicles from both the head office and from ticket sales locations, depots or docks.

Vehicle Tracking Apps, Journey Planners and Maps

Using AddTransit’s online real-time vehicle tracking also enables you to have your vehicle’s locations displayed on vehicle tracking apps, journey planners and maps.  We can provide a GTFS Real-time data feed which can be used by companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to display your vehicle’s locations on their maps.

Contact us to find out more or Sign up today!

Your Customers Expect Real Time Status Updates

Real Time Status Updates….

Customers expect Real Time Status updates

You know others are doing it.

But yes…. you’ve been putting it off.

You are fearful.  There’s a cost. People, systems and reputation.   So it’s been left to another day, another month, another year…

So what to do???  Let’s review each of these fears and see if we can turn these fears into an opportunity.

Your passengers/customers

Your customers and passengers are now expecting real time status updates.  They are tracking their parcels in real time across the globe.  They know if their Amazon book has left the warehouse, if their E-bay dress is in transit or if their pizza is just about to be delivered.  Their use of paper based maps for driving is now a increasingly historical novelty and GPS enabled smartphones is commonplace.  A decade ago it was normal not to know when things would arrive.  But now, not providing that information is seen as poor customer service.

Your team

Your team are already providing realtime status updates.  They do it by phone in the call center, at customer service centers, at stops/stations/ports and on vehicle.  However, this is a drain on your resources.  Imagine if customers/passengers could self-serve and obtain this information themselves.  This would free up your team.  They could focus on sales, upsell, and safety and instead of many team members providing best-effort updates, real time status updates allow you to ensure the right person provides the right information in the most efficient and cost effective way.

Realtime Status Systems and Software

In the past realtime status systems and software meant a massive cost investment.  Electronic signage was installed at key stops. Televisions and automated voice announcements were programmed.  Networking all these together was horrendously complicated.  And then if you wanted on vehicle realtime status systems you had to install triggers to let the vehicles know which stops had been passed and communications throughout the vehicles so all passengers could view the updates.

Luckily this huge cost outlay is no longer required.  With commuters now carrying smartphones, AddTransit can help you publish realtime status updates online.  This is a great opportunity as commuters care more about their journey, than the vehicles journey. Online realtime status updates are like Pizza delivery tracking.  You want to know how long it is until the pizza arrives at your house.  You don’t want to know all houses that the driver will delivering pizza to.  Online realtime status updates allow passengers to focus on just the information that is important to them, without being bombarded by updates that are irrelevant to their journey.  Real time status updates gives you the opportunity to provide passengers a personalized customer experience.

Your reputation

The other fear is the reputation.  The concern is that if your vehicles are late, you’ll be publishing this information for all to see.  This actually is a false fear.  Knowing that the vehicle is late allows passenger confidence in the system to rise, as now you have provided them with additional information giving them the opportunity to adjust their schedules.   Of course you’ll be looking for ways to improve on the service and minimise future delays, but in the meantime the real time status maps and apps will take the brunt of passengers displeasure with late services, and provide passengers reassurance for all the services that run perfectly.

The real time status updates opportunity

So the fears are false.  The opportunity is there.  The question now is poor customer service acceptable?  Or is it time to start real time status updates?

Find out more at https://addtransit.com/real-time-status.php

Or Join today and we’ll get you started.

Have a great day!

Are you ready for New Years?

The New Year is coming right up, and along with the fun and festivities come some challenges like dealing with intoxicated or unruly passengers.  We want your transit company to have a safe New Year’s Eve, so we’ve compiled some ideas to help the night go smoothly.

Happy New Year from AddTransit

Review records of incidents in prior years to identify locations that were hot spots for trouble.  You can use this information to co-ordinate with authorities and see if extra patrols would be advisable, and to schedule your security services if you employ them.

 

Make sure your security cameras are in proper working order, so you can record any incidents if they do occur.  This is also a good time to test panic buttons.

 

Schedule a meeting with your operators this week for a review of safety procedures.  They should have training on how to recognize intoxication or drug use, how to defuse potentially volatile situations and how to handle unruly passengers.  Encourage your operators to be professional and firm in enforcing fares and rules, but not to the point of escalating conflict or risking personal harm.

 

The Transit Cooperative Research Program recommends courses in verbal judo, which can teach operators de-stressing techniques, how to “calm a hostile customer and diffuse a potentially violent situation.”  If you have provided your operators with self-defense training, this is a good time to brush up on those techniques.  If not, consider offering this instruction as soon as possible in the coming year.

 

Also, keep in mind that this is a difficult time of year for many people, and your operators may have just had a hard holiday season themselves.  It will be hard for them to smooth the ruffled feathers of passengers if they are dealing with stress or grief themselves.  Take some time to check in with each employee and see if there are any steps you can take to boost morale.

 

Combining Vehicle Positioning  that tracks the location of the transit vehicle at all times with Real Time Status Updates to notify your passengers of delays or route changes can be beneficial, will allow you to keep riders informed of changes or delays.

Have a great New Years and stay safe.

Tips for Driving Buses Safely in the Winter

Winter is here, and snow storms are hitting hard all across the Northern Hemisphere. Whether you own a shuttle bus company, or manage school buses or city buses, you know how important it is for your drivers to stay safe, and keep your precious cargo safe. We have some tips to help your bus drivers be careful on the icy roads.

Safe Driving Buses during Winter

Training is not just for new drivers. We could all use a reminder now and then about how to drive safely, and when we are in emergency situations, we tend to fall back on those skills we’ve practiced. Set up a training area where drivers can work with instructors and practice increasing their following distance, and techniques for braking on ice and using anti lock brakes (ABS) properly (steady, constant pressure).

Consider telling your bus drivers to take alternate routes, and make sure they know routes that avoid large hills or particularly icy areas, so they can make those decisions on the road if necessary.

Make a discussion of the day’s weather forecast part of your morning meeting, if you have one. If not, consider implementing this habit so everyone in your company starts out the day with the information they need to stay safe and be productive.

Give your bus drivers a pre-trip inspection checklist, and make sure you’re giving them permission to be on the clock early enough to get it done.

Pre-trip Inspection Checklist

  • Do the heaters work?
  • Are the wiper blades in good condition?
  • Is the widow washer solvent full?
  • Do I have a can of de-icing spray?
  • Are the headlights working and clear of snow?
  • Are all of the windows and mirrors clear of snow?

10 Tips for Driving Safely in Winter Weather

  1. Slow down.
  2. If you start to slide, don’t overcompensate or jerk the wheel. Use slow, steady movements.
  3. Apply steady, constant pressure to the brakes, especially if you start to slide.
  4. Don’t use cruise control.
  5. Use your low beam headlights at night or in the fog
  6. Wear sunglasses to reduce glare during the day.
  7. Increase your following distance.
  8. Use your air-conditioning or if not available, crack a window in the front and back of the bus to keep your wind shield from fogging up.
  9. Maintain a constant speed on hills. If hills are especially icy, consider taking an alternate route
  10. Use extra caution on bridges and overpasses, which may have ice before other parts of the road.

Finally, winter weather can cause buses to sometimes be late to their destinations. We can help you alert your riders about delays with Real Time Status Updates and inform them of route changes with Vehicle Positioning Software. They can receive these updates on their phones. Contact us today to find out how to provide this valuable service to your customers.

Online Vehicle Tracking Software (Real Time)

AddTransit’s online vehicle tracking software gives you cheap vehicle tracking in real time.  Combining the power of GPS equipped smartphones, the Internet and custom built cloud based software results in cheap vehicle tracking for your bus, transit or transport tourism business.

Online Vehicle Tracking

Using our apps or mobile Internet pages your drivers can login and choose their route and vehicle.  The GPS enabled smartphones then provide the position of the vehicle as they travel along the route.

The vehicles location can be viewed on AddTransit’s online vehicle tracking web pages in real time.  We can also use the GTFS (General Transit File Specification) real time format to provide the vehicle positions to App providers and Google Maps.

It’s quick to set-up, easy to use and good value.

Have a great day!

Create GTFS data feeds / GTFS Software

Creating GTFS data feeds can mean a couple of things.  It can mean creating the the static General Transit File Specification file which contains the basic information about the schedule, stops, routes with optional information such a fares and maps.  But it can also mean creating realtime status updates (GTFS Realtime) and providing data that shows your vehicles current positions.

Although you can use text editors to create GTFS files or excel templates, the reality is that these are not inherently designed to ensure that the interdependencies between files are maintained and the risk of human error overriding the basic checks remains high.  Additionally, they are not fully integrated with mapping and timetable functions so that there is a lot of switching between software.  If you are an extremely well funded transportation company then you may get GTFS functionality as part of or an add-on to your existing enterprise transportation software package.  But for the majority of other companies, GTFS Software such as AddTransit.com that is specifically designed to create GTFS files and realtime data is the ideal solution.

GTFS software should be simple and easy enough to deliver the basic schedule for a small shuttle bus company while at the same time robust enough to handle complex scheduling and real-time solutions for citywide public transport and interstate/multi-country transit, ferry and airline companies.

This is our aim every day at AddTransit…. to make transportation easier.

Have a great day.

How Real Time Transit Information works

Today, we thought we’d have a quick look at how real time transit vehicle positioning works…

Real time transit information
How Real time transit information works

 

The diagram above provides a simplistic representation on how vehicles positions are determined and then combined to provide real time transit information on a mobile phone.

Firstly the vehicle typically has an on-board Global Positioning System (GPS) device.  The GPS device uses signals from satellites, telecommunication towers and even local wifi to determine where the vehicle is physically located.  The amount of signals available will depend on the vehicle, it’s location and the specifications of the GPS device.  The greater number of signals that the device has access to, the more accurate it can be.

The GPS device will determine its position in terms of latitude, longitude and also provide a level of accuracy.  The vehicle will then transit the GPS location and some identifying information (e.g. a vehicle id, route id, etc.) via the internet to a computer.

The computer then combines a variety of vehicle’s GPS positions to produce the data in the form of a GTFS real time data feed.  This data feed’s standardized GTFS realtime format makes it easy for Google and the various transit apps developers to display many bus, ferry, train and public transport companies information in a consistent way.  The position can be displayed on laptops, PC’s or tablets.  As the vehicle moves along, the updated position is passed through this process, allowing the end-user to identify the location of the vehicle and make informed decisions about their travel journey.

Well… that’s the simple explanation. We’ll delve into the detail in future posts.

Have a good weekend.

GTFS RealTime Status News

Today (Wed, 3 June 2015)there has been a flurry of news articles about GTFS Realtime Status.

Why? Well, because yesterday in the Google Map’s Blog,  Karen Grunberg the Technical Program Manager from Google Transit announced that they are adding 25+ new location for real-time transit info across six places: U.K., Netherlands, Budapest, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle.  She goes on to say “This real-time transit info will let you see live arrivals for buses, metros and subway systems—and even alert you to cancelled routes—so you can better navigate the intricate and unpredictable world of transit in major cities around the world.”

Here’s the link to her blog post (http://google-latlong.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/mind-gapp-for-real-time-transit.html).

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan follows on in an article on Gizmodo (http://gizmodo.com/google-just-made-it-easier-to-see-exactly-how-late-your-1708532452) with a couple of nice screen shots showing how a 4 minute delay for  bus trip would be displayed.

So in you’re not online yet, how do you get your cities real-time data online?  Well, in Seattle’s case it helped that Brian Ferris, the developer of the widely used OneBusAway app, was hired by Google (http://www.geekwire.com/2015/onebusaway-creator-brings-seattles-real-time-transit-data-to-google-maps/).  But for everyone else the best way is to create a GTFS real-time transit feed.  GTFS is the acronym for General Transit Feed Specification, the international standard for displaying schedule and other transit information.

If you want to know more about  how to create GTFS realtime status or how to display vehicles positions using GTFS, just contact us.

One final comment: It seems like forever to get to this many cities with realtime data, but in reality Google only launched their realtime transit status service in 2011, only four short years ago (http://googleblog.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/know-when-your-bus-is-late-with-live.html)

Have a great day!