Quality Control - Lessons Learned from the Deployment and Evaluation of GTFS-Realtime Feeds

Real-time transit information has many benefits to transit riders and agencies, including shorter perceived and actual wait times, a lower learning curve for new riders, an increased feeling of safety, and increased ridership. In the last few years, a real-time complement to the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format, GTFS-realtime, has emerged. GTFS-realtime has the potential to standardize real-time data feeds and lead to widespread adoption for transit agencies and multimodal apps. However, GTFS-realtime suffers from a lack of clear documentation and openly available validation tools, which significantly increases the time and effort necessary to create and maintain GTFS-realtime feeds. More importantly, bad data has been shown to have a negative effect on ridership, the rider’s opinion of the agency, and the rider’s satisfaction with multimodal apps. This paper discusses the lessons learned in the deployment of a GTFS-realtime feed with an open-source mobile transit app as part of a regional transit information system for the Tampa Bay area in Florida. These experiences led to improvements to the GTFS-realtime specification itself, as well the creation of an open-source GTFS-realtime validation tool. An evaluation of 78 transit agency GTFS-realtime feeds using the validation tool showed integrity errors in 54 feeds and warnings in 58 feeds, indicating wide-spread problems with quality control. This paper concludes with recommendations going forward that will help reduce the time needed to develop, test, deploy, and maintain GTFS-realtime feeds, which will in turn lead to better quality real-time information for transit riders.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee AP000 Public Transportation Group.
  • Authors:
    • Barbeau, Sean J
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2018


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References;
  • Pagination: 20p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01659602
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 18-05585
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Feb 8 2018 9:41AM