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.
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!
Have you ever created a GTFS data feed and wondered what’s inside? Well here’s a quick run down / lay persons guide….
A GTFS (General Transit File Specification) file is a group of files that have been “zipped”. “Zipping” a file is a way of compressing a group of files or directories into a single file. This makes the total file size smaller and quicker to copy around. It also means the person who is transferring the zipped file only needs to think about the single zipped file, rather than having to remember all the files that have been compressed inside it.
The GTFS file will contain a number of required files and potentially some optional files. The required files are enough to produce basic routes and schedules, whereas the optional files add supplemental information that enriches, supports and (sometimes) simplifies the required information.
The required GTFS files that must be created are:
- Agency: Describes the company that provides the transit service
- Stops: Describes where the vehicles pick up and/or drop off passengers
- Routes: Contains summary information about a route detail (e.g. Jamestown Line, 452 Bus route, etc.)
- Calendar: Specifies on which days a service runs
- Trips: Contains information for each trip that occurs on a route for a particular service day
- StopTimes: Contains the detailed information about the trip describing at what time the vehicle arrives and departs from a particular stop
You can also create GTFS files that are considered optional:
- Calendar Dates: This file identifies which days have exceptions to the standard calendar (e.g. Altered services for holidays, additional services, no services, etc.). Most GTFS feeds will include this file.
- Fare Attributes & Fare Rules: These two files are used to describe the standard adult fare. One of the limitations of the specification at the moment is that most transit operators have a variety of fares (e.g. Child, Seniors, Monthly tickets, etc.) and the file specification does not yet cater for these. Rather than publish partial information, many agencies choose to not include fare information.
- Shapes: This file is used to draw the route on maps. The majority of GTFS feeds will include this file.
- Frequencies: This file is used to simplify schedules when a trip occurs at regular intervals (e.g. The bus runs every 30 minutes). This file is typically included when you have a timetable that has a repeatable schedule for a number of hours, as it lessens the data keying effort, reduces the risk of errors. It also enables the software that displays the information to better convey the schedule e.g. “Every 30 minutes”, rather than “Next bus 30 minutes, then another in 1 hour”.
- Transfers: This includes rules for making transfers between routes. This file is typically included for major transit agencies (e.g. time between platforms or between bus bays), but is often not relevant for smaller agencies.
- Feed Info: This describes who published the feed, what version of the feed it is and when it expires. The information inside this file is used by people who manage and manipulate the GTFS files. The inclusion of this file is a good idea (though of course, it is still optional).
We’ll discuss each of the files in detail in future posts.
If you can’t want and just need to know more now, the full specification is available here: https://developers.google.com/transit/gtfs/reference
And if you want to create GTFS data, you might way to try our GTFS Editor. Here’s the link so you can get started: https://addtransit.com/sign_up.php
Have a great day!
Today we’ve published a new How To white paper. It outlines at a high level what needs to be done to get your schedules on maps, journey planners and apps using the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS).
Have a look and let us know what questions you have. Here’s the link: https://addtransit.com/tools/GTFS Display schedules on online maps.pdf
Have a great weekend!