How to Bring OneBusAway to your City

We are often asked about expanding OneBusAway to other cities.  Unfortunately, we are pretty busy running OneBusAway here in Washington State, so we have no immediate plans to expand OneBusAway to other cities in the US or beyond.

That said, we made OneBusAway open-source so that others might more easily use OneBusAway on their own.  Here we describe the issues involved in bringing OneBusAway to your own city.

What OneBusAway Does and Does Not Provide

Before considering if you can run OneBusAway on your own, it's important to consider what OneBusAway does and does not provide.

While OneBusAway provides a variety of user interfaces for accessing real-time arrival and other information for public transit systems, we assume that you can provide static schedule data in the GTFS format for your target transit agency.  We also assume that your transit agency already has real-time tracking equipment installed on their vehicles if you are to show real-time information in OneBusAway.  More details below.

GTFS

OneBusAway needs static schedule information for each transit agency that is to be supported.  OneBusAway currently requires schedule data in the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format.  If you want to run OneBusAway on your own, you will need GTFS for your transit agency.  Many transit agencies already publish their schedule data in the GTFS format: see http://www.gtfs-data-exchange.com/ and http://www.citygoround.org/ for lists of agencies with public data.

If your agency doesn't already publish GTFS, but does provide their schedule data in some other format, you can sometimes create your own GTFS from their data.  Check out http://groups.google.com/group/transitdatafeeder for a tool for creating GTFS by hand.

Real-Time Data

While OneBusAway provides user interfaces for accessing real-time arrival information for public transit vehicles, it does not do any actual real-time vehicle tracking or prediction.  We assume your public transit system already has some form of real-time tracking equipment installed, such as GPS units.  If your transit system doesn't have real-time tracking, you can still use OneBusAway to provide static schedule information, but you obviously won't have real-time information.

If your transit agency does have real-time tracking equipment, the trick is often getting that data from the agency to OneBusAway.  Since there is currently no standard for real-time tracking data, each agency often has to be supported in a customized way.  For more details, send us an email at contact@onebusaway.org.

Running OneBusAway on your Own

If you can provide the required schedule and real-time data inputs necessary to run OneBusAway, then you can run OneBusAway on your own for free.  See our Project Documentation for lots information about working with OneBusAway.  Note that while we are working to make OneBusAway easier to use and deploy every day, running OneBusAway on your own will still require a bit of technical savvy, including some basic system administration skills.

Commercial Support

If you are a transit agency looking for a more official solution, including support contracts and service-level agreements, we are proud to announce that we have partnered with OpenPlan to provide commercial support for OneBusAway.  OpenPlans is a non-profit civic-technology organization out of New York City that specializes in working with open-source software to provide solutions to government agencies.  OpenPlans can provide customized OneBusAway-based installations that can be flexible to your agencies needs for real-time rider information systems, while still taking advantage of the open-source nature of OneBusAway, including the continued work by the developer community to improve OneBusAway and lower total cost of ownership.

If you are interested in commercial support for OneBusAway, send us an email at contact@onebusaway.org.