Improving Access and Management of Public Transit ITS Data

Report by the National Academies: “With the proliferation of automated vehicle location (AVL), automated passenger counters (APCs), and automated fare collection (AFC), transit agencies are collecting increasingly granular data on service performance, ridership, customer behavior, and financial recovery. While granular intelligent transportation systems (ITS) data can meaningfully improve transit decision-making, transit agencies face many challenges in accessing, validating, storing, and analyzing these data sets. These challenges are made more difficult in that the tools for managing and analyzing transit ITS data generally cannot, at this point, be shared across transit agencies because of variation in data collection systems and data formats. Multiple vendors provide ITS hardware and software, and data formats vary by vendor. Moreover, agencies may employ a patchwork of ITS that has been acquired and modified over time, leading to further consistency challenges.
Standardization of data structures and tools can help address these challenges. Not only can standardization streamline data transfer, validation, and database structuring, it encourages the development of analysis tools that can be used across transit agencies, as has been the case with route and schedule data, standardized in the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format..(More)”.