In 2016, transit data is important to any urban city. Without access to this information, people are left to guess how long it will take to get from point A to point B, the norm just a few decades ago, but a luxury that most nowadays are unwilling to live without.
It took many years to translate transit data into a universally usable format for wider audiences and platforms. In 2005, General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) was created, giving a common standard for data which enabled transit data to be universally understood. Google and other companies could now use this transit data to accurately estimate travel times and enable people around the globe to plan their trips more efficiently via their software.
Opening information to the public regarding mass and public transportation creates a more accessible rail and bus system, which in turn helps people better anticipate their travel times and needs. Opening GTFS feeds improves government services by improving communication between service providers and the people. Open data could also help city planners communicate with the needs of the people to provide for a more efficient future. Private companies could also benefit through the creation of software and apps to aid the public.
Below are videos from the YouTube channel STLTransit, utilizing GTFS data, that show how public transit is moving around the world.
Nairobi, Kenya, shows the flow of railways (red) and buses (white). Notice how activity peaks in the evening rush and how the traffic passes through the city.
In Santiago, Chile, the subway, bus, and above ground rail lines are given different colors to accent the the various passages.
With one of the most extensive transportation systems in the world, London demonstrates highly intricate systems working in unison.
Washington, D.C. gives an example of a U.S. metropolis.
Finally, São Paulo, Brazil, with 11 million people to move around.
It’s funny how soothing it all seems from this perspective.