Analyzing historical transit service & GTFS publishing practices in Transitland
by Christine Phan
The original publication of the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) in 2006 massively increased the availability and accessibility of transit data, and enabled countless new applications of this data for routing, spatial analysis, and city planning. A decade later, the historic collection of published feeds is also a valuable resource for understanding how transit systems evolve over time, and how service and investment decisions can shape our transportation choices and the built environment.
GTFS Data Exchange, a project started in 2008 by Jehiah Czebotar with just a dozen feeds, was one of the first compilations of public feeds and archived data, and eventually grew to approximately 1,000 feeds, with over 13,000 archived feed versions totaling 93 gigabytes.
GTFS Data Exchange entered read-only mode in 2016, with Transitland becoming one of the services to take its place as an ever-updating archive of feeds. This summer I began a project to import some of GTFS Data Exchange’s historical feeds versions that predate Transitland into the Transitland Feed Registry, and to use this combined data to better understand how often feed updates are published, the amount of time covered by each schedule, and trends in how much transit service is provided by each operator.