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Why Open-source Software?


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A presentation on the current state of open-source software for real-time multimodal information in the public transit industry. Presented at the 2019 OneBusAway & OpenTripPlanner Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., January 14, 2019.

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Why Open-source Software?

  1. 1. Why Open-source Software? Real-time multimodal information using open data and open software 101001001010101010010 001010100101010010111 101010100100101011001 110101000101011010001 101101000101010100010 100010101101010111001 010010101010010010101 101101000101010100010
  2. 2. Open-source is awesome  Allows multiple agencies to leverage the same resources  Don’t start from scratch – jump start new projects  Don’t reinvent the wheel – spend those resources elsewhere  Reduces risk of vendor lock-in  Any vendor can deploy and support an open-source solution  If a vendor doesn’t perform, agency can switch vendors and keep software  Reduces long-term risk of innovation failure  Someone else can also improve upon past efforts
  3. 3. At least 3 major real-time transit info OSS projects OpenTripPlanner TheTransitClock (formerly transiTime) OneBusAway
  4. 4. Each do different things  TheTransitClock  Focuses on generating arrival/departure predictions given raw vehicle data  Can export predictions in GTFS-realtime and other formats  OneBusAway  Provides an API optimized for accessing real-time transit information  Includes open-source native apps for iOS, Android, Amazon Alexa, Google Glass  Can consume GTFS-realtime and other real-time formats  OpenTripPlanner  Provides an API optimized for multimodal trip planning, including bikeshare  Can consume GTFS-realtime, General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS)
  5. 5. Typical architecture TheTransitClock OneBusAwayRaw vehicle data GTFS-realtime OpenTripPlanner Trip planning API Real-time arrival API Bikeshare API Native apps (e.g., OneBusAway Android)
  6. 6. A lot of users and deployments  OneBusAway  Deployed in 10 cities worldwide  For iOS and Android alone (not including web, SMS, IVR, Alexa):  Over 1 million unique users  ~330k active users in the last 30 days  Hundreds of thousands more when including web and white-label deployments  OpenTripPlanner  Over 15 production deployments worldwide  NYDOT state-wide deployment  Norway, Finland, Netherlands country-wide deployments  TheTransitClock  Production deployments in eight cities
  7. 7. OneBusAway Project Members  Universities  Georgia Tech (Kari Watkins)  University of South Florida (Sean Barbeau)  University of Washington (Alan Borning)  Transit Agencies  Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (Shannon Haney)  San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego, California (Devin Braun)  York Region Transit (Rajeev Roy)  Atlanta Regional Commission  Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City (William Wong)  Sound Transit (Michael Berman)  Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Washington DC (Stephanie Lynn Jones)  Companies and Non-profits  Cambridge Systematics (Eric Ziering)  goEuropa (Wojciech Kulesza)  Trillium Transit (Aaron Antrim)  TransitScreen (Matt Caywood)  Conveyal (David Emory)  Individual Developers  Aaron Brethorst  Sean Óg Crudden  Kurt Raschke members/
  8. 8. OpenTripPlanner deployments  Transit Agencies  TriMet (Porland, OR)  Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (Tampa, FL)  Metropolitan Transportation Authority (NY, NY)  Sound Transit (Seattle, WA)  MARTA (Atlanta, GA)  Metro (Los Angeles, CA)  MBTA (Boston, MA)  Nationwide deployments  Finland  Norway  Netherlands Statewide deployments NY DOT (New York State) Other agencies Arlington, VA Commute Planning Site Piemonte Region, Italy and the City of Torino Municipal Transport Company of Valencia (Valencia, Spain) SMTC, Grenoble Alpes métropole, l'État Français, the Rhône-alpes region, the Isère council and the City of Grenoble (France) STAR network (Rennes, France) Urban Transport Authority of Poznań (Poznań, Poland) Universities University of South Florida Trento Province, Italy SmartCampus Project
  9. 9. TheTransitClock deployments Locations Routes Contributor OneBusAway integration Vendors Chile (3 cities) Villarrica, Valdivia , Concepción 9 Yes Yes CitiMovil Poland (2 cities) Sroda Wielkopolska, Kornik 37 Yes Yes goEuropa Washington WMATA 241 Yes Yes Cambridge Systematics Florida Sanford Trolley, I-RIDE Trolley 3 Yes No Omnimodal
  10. 10. OneBusAway - Open-source native apps Android iPhone
  11. 11. WMATA Bus (Washington, D.C.) TheTransitClock Real-time transit info without proprietary prediction algorithmsOneBusAway
  12. 12. MTA (New York, NY) OpenTripPlanner OneBusAway Real-time info and trip planning
  13. 13. Sound Transit (Puget Sound, WA) OpenTripPlanner OneBusAway Real-time info and trip planning
  14. 14. HART (Tampa, FL) OpenTripPlanner OneBusAway Real-time info, trip planning, and bikeshare Bikeshare GBFS feed
  15. 15. OneBusAway - Link to external payment apps If payment app isn’t installed, user goes to listing on Google Play If payment app is installed, user goes straight to app
  16. 16. OBA - Enhanced customer support  Send customer feedback via Open311 protocol to ANY system  Enables discovery of issue categories per geographic location  HART (Tampa, FL) is managing feed with using SeeClickFix product  Funded by FDOT Research Office Open311 Open311- compliant system Request issue categories for a location Send issue to server w/ contact info
  17. 17. Service Alert Management  HART deployed a feature developed for WMATA that allows publishing scheduled service alerts across mobile apps and websites
  18. 18. Options for rebranding app  Can create new app on Google Play and App Store  Uses same source code but different name, colors, and logo  OneBusAway  Agency X  Agency Y  Requires extra maintenance to update apps OneBusAway Agency X Agency Y
  19. 19. Transit OSS enables research  Real-time information (RTI) has many benefits  Shorter perceived wait time [1][8]  Shorter actual wait time[1]  Increased feeling of safety (e.g., at night) [5][6]  Improved perception of agency[8]  Increased ridership[7]  Quality of real-time info is important  In one study, 9% of riders said they took the bus less often due to errors in RTI[9] [1] Kari Edison Watkins, Brian Ferris, Alan Borning, G. Scott Rutherford, and David Layton (2011), "Where Is My Bus? Impact of mobile real-time information on the perceived and actual wait time of transit riders," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Vol. 45 pp. 839-848. [4] Aaron Steinfeld and John Zimmerman, "Interviews with transit riders in San Francisco and Seattle," ed, 2010. [5] Brian Ferris, Kari Watkins, and Alan Borning (2010), "OneBusAway: results from providing real-time arrival information for public transit," in Proceedings of the 28th International CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, pp. 1807-1816. [6] A. Gooze, K. Watkins, and A. Borning (2013), "Benefits of Real-Time Information and the Impacts of Data Accuracy on the Rider Experience," in Transportation Research Board 92nd Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., January 13, 2013. [7] Brakewood, Macfarlane and Watkins (2015). The Impact of Real-Time Information on Bus Ridership in New York City. Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, Volume 53, pp. 59-7 [8] Brakewood, Barbeau, and Watkins (2014). An experiment evaluating the impacts of real-time transit information on bus riders in Tampa, Florida,, Transportation Research Part A, Volume 69, pp. 409-422. [9] A. Gooze, K. Watkins, and A. Borning (2013), “Benefits of Real-Time Information and the Impacts of Data Accuracy on the Rider Experience,” in Transportation Research Board 92nd Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., January 13, 2013. Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger
  20. 20. Active research projects  USF is adding a feature to help users exit the bus at the right stop  Based on previous research for “Travel Assistance Device (TAD)” app to help riders with intellectual disabilities use transit  USF is working on adding the ability for riders to opt-in to contributing origin/destination/travel path data  Can be used to build OD matrices and augment transit ridership studies  Can also look at mode transitions between transit and bikeshare, transportation network companies, and more
  21. 21. OneBusAway Governance - Overview  Modeled after Apache Foundation  12 seats for Board of Directors, elected every year by members  3 Transit agencies  3 Universities doing OneBusAway research  3 Private sector/non-profit  3 Individual developers  At least 1 year of sustained contributions required  New members are voted in by majority of current members  Technical decisions made by authorized developer maintaining project (but final authority rests with board)  Annual meeting at TRB  Charter can be amended by 2/3 majority votes of Board and members  Code licensed under Apache v2.0
  22. 22. OneBusAway Governance – Next steps  Currently doesn’t exist as legal entity  Plans are to incorporate as:  501(c)(3) – non-profit, or  501(c)(6) – trade organization  Overall preference of members currently seems to be 501(c)(3) non-profit  Tax-deductible  Serves a social good (supporting public transit agencies, users with disabilities  Transit agency members are currently researching if their organizations have limitations that would prevent giving to 501(c)(3)
  23. 23. OpenTripPlanner Governance  Under the Software Freedom Conservancy (  Project Leadership Committee (PLC) handles management  Quarterly conference calls  Roadmap of future features  v1.x, v2.0 release plan  Code licensed under L-GPL license
  24. 24. Upcoming Transit OSS Whitepaper  Funded via Federal Transit Administration Mobility on Demand Sandbox project with TriMet   High-level discussion of transit OSS, including:  Pros/cons  Mapzen Pelias project surviving Mapzen shutdown in TriMet’s MOD Sandbox project  Draft finished by end of January, should be available later this year  Please let me know if you’d like to see the final report!
  25. 25. Steps for getting started  Open transit data  General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data  GTFS-realtime (optional)  If you want to run it yourself:  OneBusAway - modules#getting-started  OTP -  TransitClock -  If you’d like help:  OneBusAway -!forum/onebusaway-developers  OpenTripPlanner -!forum/opentripplanner- users  TransitClock -!forum/thetransitclock
  26. 26. Thanks! @sjbarbeau Sean J. Barbeau, Ph.D. 813.974.7208
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