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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The General Transit Feed Specification Makes Trip-Planning Easier — Especially During a Pandemic — Yet its Use by California Agencies is Uneven

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Developed in 2005, the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) is making transit trip planning easier by allowing public transportation agencies to share transit schedules in an electronic format that can be used by a variety of trip-planning applications, such as Google Maps. The GTFS can be used to share static transit schedules (GTFS-s) or provide real-time information on transit vehicle arrivals and departures (GTFS-r). Providing real-time updates has proven to be exceptionally valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, between January 13th and April 25th of this year Apple estimates that transit use in the United States decreased by 75%1 , which caused many public transit providers to modify their services. The California Integrated Travel Project (CITP) recently called for widespread adoption of GTFS-s and GTFS-r2 ; however, little is known about GTFS use across agencies and, in turn, the barriers to widespread adoption.

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