Google Transit: Integrated Trip Planning & Performance Measurements for Small Urban, Rural and Frontier Transit Agencies (The Google Transit Trip Planner for Small and Midsized Transit Agencies)

This research identifies the best practices for communicating transit schedule, routes, and fare information to the traveling public. Transit information is more effectively relayed to the public. Standards are established for presenting clear, easily, understood transit user information. Assist a selected number of small urban and rural transit agencies with the conversion of their schedule, route and fare data to the open-source Google Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), develop resources (i.e., a Deployment Package) for other transit agencies to independently take advantage of the free Google Transit trip planner, and assess the opportunity of a technical assistance/grant program to further the effort statewide. (1) Advertise the opportunity and select participating agencies. The first task of the proposed work will start with selecting about three to five agencies that are interested to publish their route and schedule data on the Google trip planner. The California Center for Innovative Transportation (CCIT) team will reach out to public transit organization, including the California Transit Association, the California Association for Coordinated Transportation and the Rural Counties Task Force. A needs assessment will be conducted with each agency to determine the level of resources they require. Agencies may need as little as $5,000 if their data is already maintained in a structured, open database or it may be three or four times more if the data has to be pre-conditioned first. (2) Explore commercial resources for transit trip planner implementation. There are a number of vendors and consultants that already offer help and resources to agencies that seek to benefit from the Google Transit trip planner. CCIT will seek partnerships to develop technical assistance resources for GTFS implementation. (3) Form project teams. For each selected transit agency, CCIT will constitute a project team that will be charged with carrying out the GTFS implementation. Project teams may include CCIT staff, local private industry partners and preferred by the agencies, as well as national consultants that have experience with the work.(4) Draft project plans. Once project teams have been assembled, project plans will be developed for each agency. While the data conversion itself may be a simple matter of code implementation, CCIT will be attentive that each project results in a sustainable procedure to post route and schedule updates, whether such procedure is operated by agency staff or external consultants. Demonstration plans will be drafted in coordination so that common tasks can be identified and carried out for all agencies at once. (5) Projects implementation. Based on the plans produced in Task 4, each project team will implement the tools necessary to the publication of the agencies' route, schedule and fare data to the Google Transit Trip Planner, coordinating as necessary. (6) Projects validation. Once the implementations are completed, the CCIT team will perform quality assurance to insure that the data for each agency has been correctly ported. The CCIT team will further coordinate with each agency to document the conversion process and validate that the Google Transit Trip Planner integration is functioning nominally. (7) Evaluation of the Google Transit trip planner. An assessment of the trip planner benefits will be conducted. The following tools will be used to evaluate the impact of the trip planner at one or more agencies: 1) counts of online visits to the trip planner will provide one measure of usefulness to the public, 2) an online survey will be conducted to collect feedback from users of the trip planner and, 3) ridership at the partnering transit agencies will be monitored and correlated with the results of the online survey to estimate the effect of the trip planner on transit usage. (8) Lessons learned from GTFS implementations This task will explore and organize the challenges faced by the project teams in implementing the Google Transit Feed Specification and resources developed to overcome these challenges. The need for any additional resources will be assessed to make GTFS implementations easier for small urban and rural transit agencies in California. (9) Develop a deployment package for GTFS implementations. Based on the lessons learned and the exploration of partnerships, CCIT will organize a comprehensive set of resources into a deployment package and develop a roadmap for statewide assistance to small urban and rural transit agencies with GTFS implementations. The result of this task will be a deployment package developed in close consultation with Caltrans Division of Mass Transportation (DMT. (10) Develop a preliminary technical assistance program. In this task, CCIT will develop a detailed plan for a technical assistance program that will help the agencies implement GTFS based on the evaluation of the GTFS implementations and the overall project success.