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Center Identification Number:  77935

Project Title: Development of a Regional Public Transportation GIS Architecture and Data Model 

Principal Investigators:

Edward L. Hillsman, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator
Phone: 813-974-2977

Sean Barbeau, Co-Principal Investigator
Phone: 813-974-7208

Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Fax: 813-974-5168

External Project Contact:     

Raymond Miller, District 7 GIS Coordinator
Florida Department of Transportation

11201 N McKinley Drive, MS 7-210
Tampa, FL 33613

Phone: 813-414-4613


Start and End Dates

Start Date:  February 2011               Expected End Date: May 2012

I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

FDOT District 7 has identified the need to obtain and view spatial data from many public transportation agencies within District 7 and across the West Central Florida Region. This ability will greatly increase the efficiency of District 7 employees that use public transportation information in their workflows. Furthermore, it will assist the regional public transportation planning efforts in District 7 such as the proposed high-speed rail project. The safe movement of people and goods is a mission-critical goal for District 7 in order to promote a fully integrated and sustainable transportation system that promotes quality of life and economic well-being. By harnessing existing technological opportunities such as GIS and geospatial analysis capabilities, District 7 seeks to support improvements in local decision-making for the strategic and systematic placement of effective transportation options to induce economic vitality. As national policies and discussions surrounding sustainable and livable communities continue, FDOT sees the need truly consider how to make data available for: • creating and evaluating alternative transportation, land-use, and development scenarios; • estimating a range of community, economic, fiscal, and environmental impacts associated with transportation and development scenarios; and • forecasting the land use impacts of transportation plans and projects. Ideally, these data will be compiled into a geo-database schema that unifies the data formats from the various public transportation systems and shared with the public to enable cost-effective public transportation and multimodal trip planning. Currently, most public transportation agencies do not share a common database schema, which makes comparison and coordination between agency datasets difficult and time-consuming. This database should be easily accessible from a web-based GIS application that provides tools for viewing and querying the GIS data and facilitates regional public transportation planning. This architecture should also support an automated update process which minimizes efforts required by transit agencies and District 7 to quickly and repeatedly update the centralized, shared geo-database on a regular schedule with any changes in agency data.

II. Objectives/Tasks

The objective of this project is to enable efficient and sustainable communication of spatial transit data between transit agencies within District 7 and FDOT District 7. This ability, in turn, will support the regional planning and operations efforts of FDOT District 7 and transit agencies within District 7. To further this objective, CUTR will assist FDOT District 7 in developing a GIS architecture and data model for regional GIS public transportation data, which can automatically exchange transit GIS data between FDOT District 7 and transit agencies within the District This project will assist FDOT District 7 in identifying, coordinating, and integrating existing FDOT applications and public transportation efforts such as Florida Transit Information System (FTIS) and the Automated Transit Stop Inventory Model (ATSIM) while also supporting other transit development efforts. Other data models and schemas will be leveraged such as the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) bus stop inventory database. The GIS architecture and data models developed as part of this project can be replicated by other FDOT Districts, and therefore this project should be considered a prototype for the ultimate use by the entire FDOT. The project team will actively work with FDOT District 7 staff in order to accomplish the following tasks.

Task 1 – Kick-off meeting (required of NCTR projects) and Project Management CUTR will conduct a net conference kick-off meeting within 30 days of beginning the project. The preferred method for the kick-off meeting is via teleconference or video conference. As a minimum, the project managers and the principal investigators will attend. The Research Center staff must be advised of the meeting and given the option to attend. Other parties may be invited, as appropriate. The subject of the meeting will be to review and discuss the project’s tasks, schedule, milestones, deliverables, reporting requirements, and deployment plan. A summary of the kick-off meeting shall be included in the first progress report. This task will also cover project management at CUTR, including producing required progress reports and carrying out deliverable reviews before submittal to FDOT

Task 2 – Identify Specific Data Needs There are many data elements that are integral to a complete public transportation planning GIS. Identified data to be provided by the transit agencies may include, but are not limited to:

• Bus route alignments

• Bus stop locations and inventory

• Scheduling data

• Ridership data Additional spatial data from various sources may include, but are not limited to:

• Long-range Transportation Plans (LRTP)

• Capital Improvement Programs (CIP)

• Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure

 • Current and planned uses of land

This task will conduct a brief literature review and hold discussions with staff in FDOT and Metropolitan Planning Organizations in District 7 (Hillsborough County MPO; Pinellas County MPO; Hernando County MPO; Pasco County MPO; and the Citrus County TPO) to identify and prioritize the types of data needed for public transportation planning, and to describe why they are needed. FDOT District 7 staff will assist in this process by facilitating discussions with relevant parties and, if needed, by hosting meetings.

Task 3 – Data Sharing Forum Communication and the coordination of data sharing between District 7 and the surrounding transit agencies will involve a considerable amount of effort. This task will identify the “stewards” of each data element at each agency. District 7 will need to make sure that each agency sees value in making its data available and regularly updating this data by identifying and presenting benefits to the agency during the initial communication process. The agencies and District 7 will need to agree on a forum and procedures for actually exchanging the data which is feasible for the agency to accomplish on a routine basis. Data should be provided to District 7 on a quarterly basis, after the new schedules are completed.

To facilitate the consistent provision of data to the FDOT District 7, a convenient venue to send the data should be provided to the transit agencies. Currently, each agency in District 7 uses TransCIP to upload quarterly reports to the District. TransCIP could be leveraged as this venue and would be a logical choice since it is already in place. However, because TransCIP is a proprietary solution, it is currently unknown if the system can be modified to incorporate the desired functionality under this project. CUTR staff will evaluate other options suggested by District 7 and transit agency staffs. FDOT District 7 staff will assist the USF research team in understanding the technical implementation of TransCIP and, if necessary, gaining access to the TransCIP system in order to leverage the TransCIP system as part of this project.

Another existing tool for transit data exchange automation will be leveraged for this project. Software developed by CUTR under a separate NCTR project sponsored by FDOT has implemented the automatic retrieval, extraction, formatting, and synchronization of transit data in the GTFS format into a centralized database. This tool also capitalizes on an existing process transit agencies have in place, the purpose of which is primarily to regularly update their data for Google Transit’s free trip planner, and therefore does not require the transit agency to complete additional work outside of their current routine. In this process transit agencies upload their GTFS data to a website in a zip file format when new schedules are produced. CUTR has automatically retrieved GTFS data from HART, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT), Space Coast Area Transit (SCAT) Broward County Transit (BCT), and Miami Dade Transit (MDT) using this software tool (the other three Florida transit agencies using the GTFS format—RTS in Gainesville, Tri-Rail in Miami-Dade County, and the West Florida Regional Planning Council—have not yet made their GTFS data available to CUTR). CUTR will leverage this software and knowledge as part of the automated update process for transit agencies.

FDOT District 7 staff will assist with this task by being directly involved in active discussions with transit agencies in order to indentify sustainable procedures for the data exchange between transit agencies in District 7 and FDOT District 7. FDOT District 7 staff will also aid in identifying benefits to transit agencies for participating in the data update process in order to ensure that the established procedure will be successful and sustainable. If transit agencies will be required to submit data, CUTR will assist FDOT District 7 staff in establishing this requirement and communicating it to the transit agencies.

Task 4 – Geodatabase Schema Since the various agencies use different scheduling software and data collection methodologies, the formats of their data will vary. To create a regional public transportation database, a schema must be created that unifies the various data formats from local agencies and facilitates regional public transportation planning. Task 4 will develop this schema. FDOT District 7 staff will assist by providing access to the current data model that is being used within District 7 to represent public transportation data and providing valuable feedback on what a new geodatabase schema should contain to meet the needs of FDOT District 7.

The General Transit Feed Specification has been identified as a possible format for an initial schema. The use of this schema would also assist the individual agencies to participate in the GTFS and the free online Google Transit trip planning website. Additionally, two of District 7 agencies, HART and PSTA, are already participating in Google Transit and are maintaining their data in the GTFS format as part of an automated data updating process. Furthermore, efforts from a current NCTR project sponsored by FDOT, “Expanding the GTFS to Support Transit Planning and Operations”, could be leveraged. This currently active project aims to augment the existing GTFS schema with planning and operations data such as ridership and bus stop inventory.

Several of the major commercial software packages for transit scheduling (e.g., Trapeze, HASTUS) provide support for converting agencies’ stop, route, and scheduling data into GTFS. In addition, the Transportation Research Board’s IDEA program is supporting development of software to make it easier for small transit agencies to prepare GTFS files for use in Google Transit.

Other resources for the data model should be considered as well. The Automated Transit Stop Inventory Model (ATSIM) should also be examined as a potential resource. ATSIM is a full bus stop inventory data collection application and methodology that should ideally integrate with the database schema. Additionally, the HART Bus Stop Inventory and Accessibility database schema has been identified as a good basis for the bus stop inventory component of the geodatabase.

FDOT District 7 staff will assist the USF research team in gaining access to the technical implementation of the ATSIM system, and, if necessary, gaining access to the ATSIM system in order to leverage the ATSIM system as part of this project.

Task 5 – GIS Interface A web-based GIS application will be used to allow users to map and query the GIS database. FDOT District 7 has created and is currently hosting an enterprise geodatabase accessed through a robust GIS web application that can be focused to the various business processes throughout the District. This application is the logical venue for FDOT employees and consultants to access public transportation data. FDOT District 7 will provide access to this enterprise GIS web application and geodatabase system to the USF research team so it can be examined as a potential interface for the data captured under this project.

Ideally, access of this public transportation GIS application and database will be provided to the involved agencies for their benefit. However, because of concerns about computer security, the District 7 GIS application may not initially be available to the agencies. Consequently, other means of sharing the data with the agencies and the public should be explored. One of these means, the Florida Transit Information System (FTIS), is an existing web-based GIS application available to the public. It focuses on providing public transportation data throughout Florida and provides tools specific to public transportation data analysis. The database resulting from this proposed project would be ideal to feed greater and more current data to the FTIS. FDOT District 7 staff will assist the USF research team in gaining access to the technical implementation of the FTIS system, and, if necessary, gaining access to the FTIS system in order to leverage the FTIS system as part of this project.

If using the existing FDOT District 7 GIS web application or FTIS system is estimated to require less effort than developing a new user interface, the existing system will be leveraged as the GIS web user interface. If these existing systems can be used, this task will focus on modifying the specified system and integrating the data from the above tasks into that system. If these systems cannot be used or the estimated effort to modify these systems is greater than the estimated effort to implement a new web application, this task will focus on implementing a tool to visualize and query the data via a web application.

Task 6– Draft Final Report This task will draft a final report that documents the findings of the project, including

• descriptions of the data architecture and data models developed during the project

 • descriptions of data flows between FDOT and outside agencies

• benefits identified by FDOT, project staff, and data holders from sharing data

• descriptions of software packages or modifications developed as part of the project

• descriptions of software changes that may be identified during the project as necessary but beyond the scope of the project, and

• guidance for how the software is to be used within an FDOT district workflow, based on feedback from FDOT District 7.

Task 7: Final report Following receipt of review comments on the draft final report, the CUTR study team will revise the draft final report and submit a final report.

Task 8: Project Closeout Meeting A closeout meeting shall be conducted to review project performance, the deployment plan, and next steps. Attendees shall include, as a minimum, the project manager, the principal investigators, and the Research Center performance coordinator. This meeting is to occur prior to the expiration of the contract and subsequent to the approval of the draft final report (i.e., it should be scheduled for sometime during the final 30 days of the project).

Work not included in this scope of service is not to be performed and will not be subject to compensation by the Department.


III. Deliverables

Project Kickoff Meeting

A kick-off meeting shall be scheduled to occur within the first 30 days of execution by the university. The preferred method for the kick-off meeting is via teleconference or video conference. As a minimum, the project manager and the principal investigator will attend. The Research Center staff must be advised of the meeting and given the option to attend. Other parties may be invited, as appropriate. The subject of the meeting will be to review and discuss the project’s tasks, schedule, milestones, deliverables, reporting requirements, and deployment plan. A summary of the kick-off meeting shall be included in the first progress report. Progress Reports The university will submit quarterly progress reports to the Research Center. The first report will cover the activity that occurred in the 90 days following the issuance of the task work order. Reports should be submitted within 30 days of the end of the reporting period. Reports are due even if little or no progress has occurred (in which case, the report should explain delays and/or lack of progress). Progress reports should be sent in MS Word to Sandra Bell,

Progress reports must include the following information:

1. Contract number, task work order number, and title

2. Work performed during the period being reported

3. Work to be performed in the following period

4. Anticipated modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope). This section is for reporting/informational purposes, not for officially requesting an amendment.

Note: To request an amendment to a contract, the contractor must provide the project manager with the appropriate information (i.e., what is being requested with justification) in the required format. If the project manager concurs with the request, he/she shall forward it with his/her approval and commentary, as appropriate, to the Research Center for administrative review and processing (pending available funds, etc.) 5. A progress schedule updated to reflect activities for the period being reported.

Failure to submit progress reports in a timely manner may result in termination of the work order.

Draft Final Reports

The Draft Final Report is due 90 days prior to the end date of the task work order. The draft final report will be submitted to Sandra Bell, It should be edited for technical accuracy, grammar, clarity, organization, and format prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The Research Center expects contractors to be able to provide well-written, high-quality reports that address the objectives defined by the scope of service. Draft final reports must be prepared in accordance with the “Guidelines for Preparing Draft Final and Final Reports” posted at This document provides information on all report requirements, including format, the technical report documentation form, disclaimer language, and so forth.

Final Reports

Once the draft final report has been approved, the university shall prepare the final report. The university will deliver a minimum eight (8) copies on CD or DVD – seven (7) CDs should contain the final report in PDF format, one (1) CD should contain the final report in PDF format, MS Word format and a Summary of the Final Report. The CD/DVDs should be labeled in a professional manner and include at a minimum the contract number, task work order number, project title and date.

The final report is due no later than the end date of the task work order and should be delivered to the following address:

The Florida Department of Transportation Research Center, MS 30

605 Suwannee Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450


 IV. Project Schedule


V. Project Budget

Total Fixed Price Amount        $99,700.08


VI. Equipment

No equipment will be purchased for this project.


VII. Travel

No travel is required for this project.

All travel shall be in accordance with Section 112.061, Florida Statutes. FDOT employees may not travel on research contracts.


VIII. Use of Graduate Student(s) and Other Research Assistants

A graduate and undergraduate student will assist in reviewing literature and in discussions with staff to identify data needs. A graduate and undergraduate student will also assist in software development and related technical tasks for the architecture and database schema and model developed in the project, as well as in the implementation and modification of the GIS interface and the final report.

IX. Project Team

Principal Investigators: Sean J. Barbeau is a principal investigator for this project. Mr. Barbeau joined the research faculty of the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida in 2004 as part of the Transportation Demand Management team. Mr. Barbeau has served as the PI for multiple research projects investigating intelligent software systems for GPS-enabled mobile phones and real-time geographic information systems. He has served as a member of the international Expert Group developing the next Java-based software standard for location-aware mobile phones, “JSR293 - Location API 2.0”, and has 15 patents pending in the area of location-aware technology. He holds a M.S. and B.S. in Computer Science from USF and is also a part-time Computer Science Ph.D. student at USF. Mr. Barbeau will oversee the design and implementation of the software portions of the architecture and data model that coordinates the transfer of geographic information from transit agencies to a centralized database at FDOT District 7.

Edward L. Hillsman is co-principal investigator for this project. A senior research associate at CUTR, Dr. Hillsman holds a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Iowa. He specializes in transportation demand management, climate change, and the role of information in transportation systems and choices. Prior to joining CUTR in 2008, Dr. Hillsman worked on transportation demand management for the Washington State DOT, and a broad range of research topics as a research staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. For this project, Dr. Hillsman will focus on identifying specific data needs, user needs in the interface, and the institutional side of data sharing. He also will handle project management.

Program Assistant: Jennifer Iley will assist the principal investigators in contract administration, scheduling, tracking, and compliance with institutional requirements. She also will assist in formatting and editing the final draft report, as well as other programmatic and clerical assistance needed for the project.

Reviewers: Joel Volinski is the director of the National Center for Transit Research (NCTR) program at CUTR. He will provide internal review of the draft final report, and oversight throughout the project period. While his effort is small on this project, his expertise is essential to this project and the program. The budget figure reflects his estimated input to the project.

Philip Winters is the director of the TDM program at CUTR. Mr. Winters will review the draft final report for this project, focusing on communicating the usefulness of the project results. Martin Catalá heads the Geographic Information Systems team at CUTR. He will review the final draft report for this project, focusing on GIS and coordination with other GIS activities involving public transportation.

Graduate Research Assistant: A graduate research assistant will assist with the literature review, with programming of the software and user interface, and in preparing the draft final report.


National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · · Comments: