GTFS-Ride: Unifying Standard for Fixed-Route Ridership Data

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, technology - passenger information


Public transit, data collection, General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data standard


The rapid growth in the availability and utility of vast amounts of digital data is arguably one of the most significant technological developments in recent years. In public transit, many agencies utilize modern technologies to collect large amounts of data, whereas smaller agencies with fewer resources and less expertise still use more traditional, manual data collection methods. Regardless of their technological capabilities, transit agencies recognize that some amount of transit data is useful and required. To the best of our knowledge, no standard data description of detailed fixed-route ridership exists today in the United States, forcing transit agencies to develop their own system of collecting, storing, and analyzing ridership and related data. In response to this need, this research aimed at developing one of the first public transit ridership data standards for fixed-route services and to support and promote its adoption and use. The resulting standard, an extension to the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data standard, is referred to as GTFS-ride. GTFS-ride is easy to understand, able to accommodate the complexities of larger transit agencies, and capable of establishing a strong connection to the state of a transit network as it existed when the ridership data was collected. The first complete draft of GTFS-ride was released on September 6, 2017. This paper explains the structure of the five files that compose GTFS-ride, introduces additional support elements developed to facilitate its promotion and adoption, and documents the lessons learned from pilot implementations of GTFS-ride at three Oregon public transit agencies.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.