OneBusAway Multi-Region – Rapidly Expanding Mobile Transit Apps to New Cities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - bus, technology - intelligent transport systems, planning - signage/information


Real-time transit information, OneBusAway multi-region project, open-source software


Real-time transit information offers many benefits to transit riders, including reduced wait times and increased customer satisfaction. However, offering real-time transit services has been challenging for many transit agencies. While mobile applications (apps) have emerged as a preferred dissemination method for real-time information, it is typically cost-prohibitive for transit agencies to fund custom development of native mobile apps for all popular smartphone platforms. Third-party developers can offer services if an agency openly shares real-time data, but these individuals are volunteers whose priorities and deadlines may not be the same as the agency’s. As a result, few cities have full app portfolios that cover all smartphone platforms. This paper presents the OneBusAway multi-region project, a collaborative effort that is enabling the rapid expansion of native mobile transit apps to new cities. OneBusAway is an open-source transit information system that has provided real-time transit services to the Puget Sound (Washington) area since 2008. The new OneBusAway multi-region feature expands the coverage of the existing Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 apps for OneBusAway to new cities, including Tampa and Atlanta. The multi-region system architecture, collaborative design and development process, and lessons learned from this ground-breaking project are discussed. The fundamental shift from proprietary to open-source software in the transit industry that has made this type of project possible also is examined.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by National Center for Transit Research, University of South Florida, copyright remains with them.