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Enabling Cost-Effective Multimodal Trip Planners through Open Transit Data

Open Trip Planning Screen Shot(Center Identification Number: 77926)  This study examined whether multimodal trip planners can be developed using open-source software and open data sources. OpenStreetMap (OSM), maintained by the non-profit OpenStreetMap Foundation, is an open, freely available international repository of geographic data that individuals contribute about their communities.

In the transit industry, Google’s offer of a free online transit trip planner based on the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) has made GTFS a de facto standard for describing transit systems and a platform for many other Web and mobile applications. Over 125 public transportation agencies in the U.S. have put their data into GTFS format. Bus stop locations can link OSM and GTFS data. OpenTripPlanner is an open-source multimodal trip planning software system with an active developer community. The study team set up an instance of OpenTripPlanner for Tampa, Florida, using biking and walking data from OSM, and GTFS data from local transit agencies, to examine the tool’s ability to route using multimodal data. The study team also recorded multimodal data for the Tampa region in OSM to examine the current OSM coding conventions and determine the coding system’s ability to support functions required of a multimodal trip planner, such as providing information on access to transit, wheelchair accessibility, or conditions that could affect the safety of a trip (e.g., intersection crossings). This study also investigated the use of open-source software to quickly increase the amount of multimodal data available in OpenStreetMap. The research team created GTFS-OSM-Sync (GO_Sync), a framework and open-source software tool for synchronizing transit data between the transit agency’s official GTFS dataset and OSM. GO_Sync connects the wealth of data from GTFS datasets to the ability of the OSM community to augment and improve the data. During a test deployment of GO_Sync in Tampa, OSM users corrected 173 bus stop locations. The project demonstrated that it is feasible to implement a multimodal trip planner using open-source software and open data sources. Based on existing practices regarding GTFS and OpenTripPlanner, transit schedule and route data are best obtained directly from transit agencies’ GTFS files. Data on infrastructure for walking and cycling can be obtained from OSM or from other locally available public-domain data. This report suggests a few changes to the OSM coding conventions that would improve OSM’s ability to meet the needs of a multimodal trip planner. The principal barrier to developing a multimodal trip planner remains the availability of data and, when using OSM as a source of data, the relatively low participation of U.S. residents in the project, compared to Europe. The OSM community recognizes this as a problem, but additional research is needed on how best to overcome it. Additional research also is needed on how best to communicate results from a trip planner to users who may have varying skill and comfort levels when it comes to bicycling and walking.  For more information, contact Edward Hillsman at hillsman@cutr.usf.edu or Sean Barbeau at barbeau@cutr.usf.edu.

Download the final report

Visit the project website for updated information about this research

Other Related Links:

USF’s OpenTripPlanner demo website – http://opentripplanner.usf.edu/

Software – General Transit Feed Specification – OpenStreetMap Synchronization (GO-Sync) open-source tool

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