Real-time transit information offers many benefits to transit riders, including reduced wait times and increased customer satisfaction. However, offering real-time transit services has been challenging for many transit agencies. While mobile applications (apps) have emerged as a preferred dissemination method for real-time information, it is typically cost-prohibitive for transit agencies to fund custom development of native mobile apps for all popular smartphone platforms. Third-party developers can offer services if an agency openly shares real-time data, but these individuals are volunteers whose priorities and deadlines may not be the same as the agency’s. As a result, few cities have full app portfolios that cover all smartphone platforms. This paper presents the OneBusAway multi-region project, a collaborative effort that is enabling the rapid expansion of native mobile transit apps to new cities. OneBusAway is an open-source transit information system that has provided real-time transit services to the Puget Sound (Washington) area since 2008. The new OneBusAway multi-region feature expands the coverage of the existing Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 apps for OneBusAway to new cities, including Tampa and Atlanta. The multi-region system architecture, collaborative design and development process, and lessons learned from this ground-breaking project are discussed. The fundamental shift from proprietary to open-source software in the transit industry that has made this type of project possible also is examined.
Barbeau, S. J., Borning, A., & Watkins, K. (2014). One Bus Away Multi Region –Rapidly Expanding Mobile Transit Apps to New Cities. Center for Urban Transportation Research, 17(4), 14.