Getting People Where They Need to Go: Learning About Transit System Maps and Data Feeds

Out of the world’s 25 most populous low and low-middle income cities, 23 do not have complete maps that represent their transit networks. Efficient transit helps give everyone a chance to increase their mobility, which impacts so many aspects of economic and social development. The quality of transit planning, operations, and management directly correlates with the quality and availability of transit network data and a transit agency’s capacity to manage and analyze them.

General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) is an open data standard that organizes transportation data so that it can be easily accessed via applications and websites, such as Google Maps. Although GTFS was first created in Portland, Oregon, it can be a useful format for transit data in resource-constrained cities, both for public transit agencies trying to keep up with transit planning and operations, and for passengers accessing transit services. GTFS “feeds” let agencies publish transportation schedules and geographic and fare information in a format that can be easily consumed, updated, and used in software applications.

To explain and provide guidance around GTFS to World Bank and government staff responsible for planning and managing transit networks, the Bank’s Transport Global Practice developed the course, "Introduction to the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) and Informal Transit System," in collaboration with the Open Learning Campus. The course takes learners through all of the steps for understanding, creating, and validating GTFS data.

The course methodologies are based on the Bank’s and others’ successful experiences in creating GTFS feeds in resource-constrained environments and reflect the latest work and knowledge in open data and open-source software. Course modules cover the history and file structure of GTFS; setting up a GTFS feed; GitHub & Open Source tools; stories from the field; how to map transit data; how to collect data for a city’s first feed; App surveys; and GTFS Realtime.

According to the course’s creators—Holly Krambeck, Bank Senior Transport Economist, and Elizabeth Resor, consultant to the Transport Global Practice—in the short term, this course is intended to raise awareness of best practices for mapping informal transit systems and equip Bank staff and public transit agency staff with the tools and knowledge they need to make evidence-based planning, policy, and investment decisions. In the long term, the methods presented will lead to creating more open transit data that can help a range of transit-oriented projects, related to Bank projects and beyond.

The Bank launched the Open Learning Campus as a single destination for just-in-time knowledge and easily accessible e-Learning for clients, staff, and development partners as they implement projects. The Campus offers courses, videos, podcasts, and communities for the latest developments, best practices, and collaborative opportunities. The platform features an extensive catalog on transit-related topics, as well as a Transit-Oriented Development Community of Practice.

Related Links:

•  Open Learning Campus Offerings on Transit-Related Topics
•  Transit-Oriented Development Community of Practice
•  World Bank Transport
•  Transport for Development Blog
•  Information and Communications for Development (IC4D) Blog