Leveraging the General Transit Feed Specification for Efficient Transit Analysis


James Wong

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

technology - management information systems, technology - passenger information, technology - intelligent transport systems, place - north america


traveler information tools, North America, open source scripts


Since 2007, the transit industry has benefited from a widely adopted data standard called the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), which has enabled the development of numerous traveler information tools (i.e., transit trip planners). The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the potential for GTFS feeds as a data source for transit analyses, such as those found in the Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual. There are three primary project tasks: an analysis of GTFS field usage by different agencies; an analysis of a single agency's operations at the stop, route, and system levels; and a batch analysis and comparison of 50 large transit agencies in North America. Compared with manually transcribing schedules from transit websites or parsing printed schedules, the use of scripts and database queries suggests that the GTFS is a highly efficient data source and proves the importance of broadly accepted data standards. The methodology documented in this paper and the open source scripts (made available online) will be useful for any analyst or researcher who has tasks related to the analysis of single or multiple transit systems at the stop, route, or system level.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.