The availability of web and mobile applications and dynamic displays for transit traveler information has proliferated in the past few years with many new and emerging uses for transit data. Transit data about routes, stops and schedules in a machine-readable format is “open” when it is published and freely available to the public. The purpose of this study is to provide a state of the practice for open transit data: how web applications use open transit data, what benefits agencies gain by giving software developers access to the data and what the best practices are for agencies considering opening data they already have. This project is limited to static data and does not address privacy and legal issues surrounding real-time GPS location data. The research draws upon a literature review, interviews with industry experts and practitioners and primary experience coordinating a regional open transit data initiative in Atlanta, Georgia. Case study interviews conducted with five transit agencies about their experiences with open data revealed best practices and trends in customer benefits. Several key findings emerged from these agency interviews: (1) transit agencies of any size can pursue open data; (2) legal concerns about brand usage and liability can be overcome; (3) agencies should support the software development community; and (4) open data is an opportunity for positive marketing of an agency. These findings enable public agencies nationwide to embark on an open data initiative to deliver benefits for existing and potential riders at low deployment costs.
Wong, J., Reed, L., Watkins, K. E., & Hammond, R. (2013). Open Transit Data: State of the Practice and Experiences from Participating Agencies in the United States. In Transportation Research Board 92nd Annual Meeting (No. 13-0186).