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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

MBTA offers innovative access to schedule data

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The Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation said an historic step toward openness and transparency by releasing to the public the detailed scheduling and geographic data the MBTA submitted for use in the Google Transit Trip Planner. The initiative is part of the Patrick Administration's commitment to comprehensive transportation reform and creating a modern, efficient, and customer-friendly transportation system,


The MBTA becomes the third largest transit agency in the U.S. to make this data public in a format that is converted into the industry-standard Google Transit Feed Specification using existing scheduling software. The data includes full schedules and geographic information for all MBTA bus, rail and ferry routes, along with several Regional Transit Authorities. Similar efforts in other areas, such as Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Portland, Ore., have allowed third-party developers to create useful applications and scheduling tools for riders at no cost to the city, agency, or state, vastly improving customer service.


Secretary James A. Aloisi, Jr. praised MBTA's Operations and Service Development team and EOT partners for making possible the scheduling data availability.


"Our priority is to consistently improve customer service for the riders who rely on the T and RTAs everyday to get to their job or their doctor's appointment on time," said Transportation Secretary Aloisi. "With the help of thoughtful technical developers, making this data public will spawn many possible applications to help transit users use their cell phones or laptops to find and use the right bus or train in the right place at the right time for them."


The data will be located on the EOT Developers' Page (, which is the one-stop place to open up to the public useful transportation data across the state. The page will now include nine sets of GTFS data from transit authorities.


Information on the page includes GTFS data for the MBTA, Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, Lexpress, Lowell Regional Transit Authority, Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority, Metrowest Regional Transit Authority, Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, Vineyard Transit, and ferry services.


Already, an application called UniBus is utilizing this data for all agencies, creating an easy-to-use statewide transit scheduler for the iPhone. Other developers have expressed interest in the data and expect to release applications in the coming months. EOT has reached out to these developers, holding a developers' meeting and engaging the community through Twitter and Google Groups, and hopes to expand its data and incorporate more information in real-time.

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