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Transit Feeds Case Study


Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) worked with Google during the early deployment of both the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) and General Transit Feed Specification Realtime (GTFS-RT). In both cases BART deployed its implementations on the official release date, along with a select few other transit agencies around the globe. These feeds provide a static schedule feed (GTFS) and a real-time feed of deviations from schedule and alerts (GTFS-RT).


BART was given access to the specifications ahead of the initial release so that it could be one of the transit agencies who were live at launch. This meant working with specifications that were still being finalized and building out tools. The GTFS format was first released in 2007 and the GTFS-RT format came out several years later.


Working with the preliminary specifications provided by Google, Web Master Designs analyzed the specification requirements and determined how the appropriate data could be pulled out of the BART scheduling information and real-time data feeds. In addition, the GTFS-RT feed uses a technology called protobuf, which was developed by Google for transmitting data in a compact format. Web Master Designs was able to implement this in an ASP.NET C# environment.

Due to changes in the BART schedule and trip planning process, the GTFS compile process had to be rewritten. It was migrated from a Java application to an ASP.NET C# program which can be run as soon as a new BART schedule is compiled for the website. Web Master Designs performed this migration, including using Drupal services to pull in data from the BART CMS. By pulling this data in from the CMS (where it is actively maintained), BART no longer has to maintain data in multiple locations.


BART was able to be included in the launch of both GTFS and GTFS-Realtime. Its GTFS data is used by Google Transit and integrated into Google Maps. In addition, BART provides GTFS data for download, and its GTFS-RT feed receives over 7 million hits per month.

Check out the BART Transit Feeds.


Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) connects the San Francisco peninsula with Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton, and other cities in the East Bay. For more than 35 years BART has provided fast, reliable transportation to downtown offices, shopping centers, tourist attractions, entertainment venues, universities, and other destinations for Bay Area residents and visitors alike.