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Introduction

Trip planning technology (the integration of transit route and schedule data on a map) enables riders to easily use transit to get where they need to go. General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) is the standard format for uploading schedule and geographic data (route alignment and bus stops) to trip planners, such as Google Transit, Apple Maps, Bing and Transit App, etc. 

For additional introductory information, check out the “Tools that Connect: Online Trip Planners and GTFS Builder” technical brief.

Get started using GTFS Builder by creating a new National RTAP Cloud account or by logging into your existing Cloud account. Once you are logged in, you will be able to download GTFS Builder.

 

About National RTAP's GTFS Builder

Anyone with a willingness to learn can build GTFS data files. National RTAP offers free, expert and personalized support through the process. GTFS Builder is a free Microsoft Excel-based web application which assists rural and tribal transit agencies to develop and generate fully valid GTFS for their bus routes. National RTAP partnered with Marcy Jaffe from Transnnovation, Inc. to develop GTFS Builder.

GTFS Builder consists of two Excel files including the ImportExport file and the Schedule Generator file. Using the ImportExport file, data which defines the attributes of agencies, service days, fare types, routes, stops and others are entered using one of the 12 data tabs.

The Schedule Generator file is used only to input trip schedules and generate trips and stop_times information. The Schedule Generator file can also be used independently to generate an agency’s schedule or table to be uploaded to an agency website.

The GTFS Builder Guidebook provides a simple step by step instructions for entering data into each tab of the ImportExport and Schedule Generator files. The Guidebook also includes a checklist which may help you estimate the time to complete each step and track your progress. The Guidebook is included in the GTFS Builder download file or can be downloaded separately here:

Finally, when data entry is completed in the ImportExport file, data in each tab is exported into separate text files using an automated process. A valid GTFS is the result of compressing or “zipping” these text files together. GTFS data can be posted to a URL, and that URL is then shared with trip planners, such as Google Maps. National RTAP offers free and secure hosting of a URL which contains the GTFS data. This is available on your GTFS Builder Dashboard, which becomes visible once you have signed into your Cloud account.

Testimonials

Product Features

  • GTFS Builder Guidebook.
  • Two Excel spreadsheets (ImportExport.xlsm and Schedule Generator.xlsm) that work together to compile a GTFS data file.
  • Two Excel spreadsheets (ImportExport – Sample Data.xlsm and Schedule Generator – Sample Data.xlsm) that provide examples of correctly input GTFS data.
  • Free hosting of your complete GTFS files from a stable URL that Google Transit, and other apps, can download from.
  • Eleven training videos. 
  • Free technical assistance (by phone and email).

Before Beginning

Confirm or Create Agency Website with Schedules – National RTAP Website Builder 3.0 If your agency will publish your GTFS data at Google Maps, Google Inc. requires an agency have a website and that the website accurately displays routes and schedules that exactly match those represented by GTFS data. National RTAP can help! Build your own website using Website Builder 3.0 or contact us for further assistance (support@nationalrtap.org).

License Agreements

At this time, many trip planners do not require signing a formal licensing agreement. However, for your trip data to be available on Google Maps, Google Inc. requires an agency to agree to the terms of its License Agreement. The agreement is provided by Google Inc. as part of the Google Transit Program. There is no fee to sign the agreement. The agreement must be digitally signed by an authorized representative of your agency. A sample agreement can be reviewed here:  Sample Agreement.pdf

Some agencies find the licensing agreement raises concerns. A practicing attorney provides a detailed explanation of an agreement in this video. If the license agreement might slow down your initial launch, consider publishing to many other trip planners and re-evaluating Google Maps at a later date.

Hardware/Software Requirements
  • A Personal Computer (PC) or Mac operating with Bootcamp or Parallels
  • Microsoft Excel, version 2010 or more recent (macros enabled)
  • Google Earth Pro on Desktop. A free version of Google Earth Pro can be downloaded here.
Skill and Time Requirements
  • Beginner to intermediate level Microsoft Excel skills
  • Beginner familiarity with Google’s My Maps
  • Beginner familiarity with Google Earth
  • Initial Data Input - Average 4 hours per route
  • Maintenance: Approximately 4 hours per year, assuming minor route or stop changes

Support

The GTFS Builder Support Center offers a comprehensive GTFS Builder Guidebook, eleven targeted how-to videos, links to Google’s Transit Partners Program and other important resources. The how-to videos will walk you through gathering and inputting your transit routes and schedule data into the GTFS Builder Excel files.

Most importantly, our technical support staff is available to answer question by phone or email and review your GTFS files. FAQs, links to additional resources and a partial list of companies that provide GTFS services are available on the Support page.

Support