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GTFS Information

The General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), also known as GTFS static or static transit to differentiate it from the GTFS realtime extension, 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 that data in an interoperable way.

Overview of a GTFS feed

Courtesy of Google.com 

A GTFS feed is composed of a series of text files collected in a ZIP file. Each file models a particular aspect of transit information: stops, routes, trips, and other schedule data. The details of each file are defined in the GTFS reference.An example feed can be found in the GTFS examples. A transit agency can produce a GTFS feed to share their public transit information with developers, who write tools that consume GTFS feeds to incorporate public transit information into their applications. GTFS can be used to power trip planners, time table publishers, and a variety of applications, too diverse to list here, that use public transit information in some way.

History of the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS)

Courtesy of wikipedia.org

What was to become GTFS started out as a side project of Google employee Chris Harrelson in 2005, who “monkeyed around with ways to incorporate transit data into Google Maps ”.McHugh is cited with being frustrated about finding transit directions in unfamiliar cities, while popular mapping services were already offering easy-to-use driving directions at the time.  Bibiana and Tim McHugh eventually got into contact with Google and provided the company with CSV exports of TriMet’s schedule data. 

In December 2005, Portland became the first city to be featured in the first version of Google’s “Transit Trip Planner”.In September 2006, five more US cities were added to the Google Transit Trip Planner, and the data format released as the Google Transit Feed Specification.  In the United States, there had not been any standard for public transit timetables prior to the advent of GTFS, not even a de facto standard. According to long-time BART website manager Timothy Moore, before the advent of GTFS, BART had to provide different data consumers with different formats, making a standardized transit format very desirable.

The publicly and freely available format specification, as well as the availability of GTFS schedules, quickly made developers base their transit-related software on the format. This resulted in “hundreds of useful and popular transit applications” as well as catalogues listing available GTFS feeds. Due to the common data format those applications adhere to, solutions do not need to be custom-tailored to one transit operator, but can easily be extended to any region where a GTFS feed is available.

Due to the wide use of the format, the “Google” part of the original name was seen as a misnomer “that makes some potential users shy away from adopting GTFS”. As a consequence, it was proposed to change the name of the specification to General Transit Feed Specification in 2009.

Download Our GTFS Feed Package

The BJCTA GTFS feed is updated approximately four times per year.  It will be published to the same URL with each new update.