Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - impacts, mode - mass transit, planning - integration, planning - signage/information, planning - standards


Vendors, Transit operating agencies, Transit lines, Transit, Systems integration, Standards, San Francisco Bay Area, Public transit lines, Public transit, Mass transit lines, Mass transit, Local transit, Interfaces, Integrated systems, Integrated control systems, Information systems, Impacts, Case studies


The rationale behind the current research and development of interface standards for the public transit industry is explored. Recent efforts to define an information systems architecture for public transit have not sufficiently discussed the underlying need for information system standards and what impacts these standards might have on the transit industry as well as on vendors. Both advantages and disadvantages to the development of these standards are identified. For public transit agencies, there appears to be a well-reasoned yet unsupported belief that interface standards will be beneficial for systems integration. To explore the impacts for vendors, a survey was developed and fielded to learn about the characteristics of products and vendor attitudes toward interface standards. The results, though not conclusive, suggest that vendors are willing to consider standards; however, needed product customization and more comprehensive systems are important factors weighing against open interface standards. Also reported are three case studies of recent technology applications in the San Francisco Bay Area in which experiences with technical system design and systems integration are described. These case studies strongly suggest that key factors such as market timing, vendor-agency communication, and "learning by doing" affect the development of interface requirements and standards for the transit industry.