Here at Streamdata.io, we are investing time learning about the global transit data system, developing a better understanding how Streamdata.io can help local transit providers stream data to their customers. One thing we have learned is that it can be difficult to find a single source of transit feeds across cities around the globe. Even with the presence of a unifying data format, the General Transit Feed Specification, there isn’t a single place you can go to find ALL the feeds in a single place, let alone in a machine readable format.
The best location we’ve found so far is the Transit Feeds API, which provides “an extensive archive of public transit data for software developers, transit agencies and more.”, allowing you to “browse and download official GTFS & GTFS-realtime feeds from around the world”. The Transit Feeds API provides machine readable access to locations, and feeds from a variety of different countries. Saving you considerable time when looking for feeds for a particular region, or country. The API is free to use, but requires you to register and obtain a key before you can begin making API calls.
One thing to remember with the Transit Feed API is that you will still need to unpack each feed. The majority of feeds are available in the GTFS format which is a zipped up file of comma separated text files. The Transit Feed API is just providing access to the locations, and the feeds, you still have to ingest, process, and make the feeds usable for a specific goal. There is a lot of untapped potential in these feeds, providing details on transit across a variety of municipalities. All it takes is for someone to see the potential, and innovate on the data provided by each city regarding their public transit.
In the current form, there isn’t much that Streamdata.io can do with the GTFS format from these cities. There just isn’t much changing that would require streaming. The data is fairly static. However, it would take much to automate, and virtualize around calendar, trips, routes, stops, fares, and other data available in each transit feed. Once you have done this, the possibilities for publishing as a simple RESTful API, and then stream using Streamdata.io and Server-Sent Events (SSE), are unlimited. We look forward to hearing more about what you are building with transit data, and happy to help realize how streaming might make your idea make a more real time impact.