GO_Sync — A Framework to Synchronize Crowd-Sourced Mapping Contributors from Online Communities and Transit Agency Bus Stop Inventories

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - north america, technology - intelligent transport systems, technology - passenger information


Transit, Public transportation, Bus stop, General Transit Feed Specification, GTFS, Location-based services, OpenStreetMap, OSM


Proprietary formats and licensing restrictions limit individuals from sharing, viewing, or updating geographic (e.g., map) datasets and also restrict the use of these data to create innovative location-based services. Open geographic data repositories are now emerging that do not have these restrictions. The General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) is a common open format for public transportation agencies’ schedules, routes, and geographic bus stop information. However, transit agencies struggle to internally maintain and update these very large official datasets. Meanwhile, OpenStreetMap.org (OSM), an online free-content “Wikipedia-like” repository of geographic data, currently has little information about U.S. public transportation, but does have a large number of users willing to freely contribute their efforts to improve geographic data for their communities. This paper presents 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 with the ability of the OSM community to contribute crowd-sourced improvements to large datasets. The GO_Sync tool therefore enables public transportation agencies to upload GTFS data to OSM and retrieve crowd-sourced data back, while the online community can edit and correct the bus stop locations and amenities based on existing GTFS data. Successfully translating GTFS data into the OSM format will enable over 125 transit agencies across the U.S. to share their public-domain data with the OSM community.


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