GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification) Builder

Trip planning technology (the integration of transit route and schedule data on a map) enables riders to determine how to use transit to get where they need to go. How can your agency bring trip planning technology onto your website? It seems complicated, but the information you already collect may move you one step closer to having that technology. GTFS Builder helps you complete the final steps.

National RTAP partnered with the Marcy Jaffe Company to bring you GTFS Builder - a free tool to help you create GTFS files to post on trip planning sites such as Google Transit. Check out the Getting Your Transit Online with GTFS Technical Brief and get started below!

Getting Started

As with all National RTAP web apps, you must be logged into National RTAP in the Cloud in order to download and use the GTFS Builder tools. If you do not have a Cloud Account, create one by clicking the "Cloud Signup" button in the top right corner of this page.  If you already have a Cloud Account, log in using the "Cloud Login" button also in the top right corner.  To learn more, please see the Web Apps Overview page on the main National RTAP website.

Once logged into the Cloud, if you do not see GTFS Builder as one of the web apps on the left side of your dashboard, contact your Cloud Signup Admin (the first person in your organization to sign up for the Cloud) to request authorization. If you do not know who your Cloud Signup Admin is, or if that individual no longer works at your organization, email support@nationalrtap.org for assistance.

Here is a summary of the three main steps of GTFS Builder to give you an idea of what you will need to do to get your route and schedule data into Google Transit.

Step 1: Gather Bus Stops – use GTFS Builder tools or data on-hand at your agency to determine the location of your bus stops by finding the latitude and longitude of each stop along a route. Then enter this data into the GTFS Builder Excel files. 

Step 2: Build Schedules – copy the bus schedule you manage into GTFS Builder or build the bus routes schedule with the bus stop location data you collected in Step 1.

Step 3: Generate GTFS – fill-in additional agency data to generate your GTFS file. Preview your transit agency's trip planning data at your Google account before launching it in Google Transit. 

There are a few things to consider prior to starting this in-house data management process, as explained in the Should My Agency Proceed with GTFS Builder? video:

  • Can you specify precise bus stop locations?
  • Do you have in-house agency staff with basic, and sometimes advanced, Excel skills?
  • Will you be able to download and run Excel files that have "macros"?
  • Can your agency agree to the terms of the (no cost) Google License Agreement? (View sample agreement.)
  • Do you have permission to download and run Google Earth?

The Google Transit FAQs and Best Practices for a Quality GTFS Data Feed will help explain some of the history and context of what you will be doing.

While National RTAP provides tools, instructions, and some technical support, we cannot geocode your stops, build your route map, or correct files if your key staff is on vacation.

There are other options if your agency wants to maintain the GTFS data but not prepare all the initial files, or vice versa. Watch the video mentioned above or go to the Additional Resources page for more information about companies that build and manage GTFS data.

The GTFS Builder Getting Started Guide will give you an overview of the web app, provide details about creating a Cloud Account, and give step-by-step instructions about using the web app.  You can either download it below or view it online by clicking on the link in the left toolbar.  The GTFS Builder Checklist, also available for download below, will help you track your progress.


        Getting Started Guide  Checklist Testimonials


To proceed, click on the links in the left toolbar to find all videos and resources for GTFS Builder. Click on Step 1: Gather Bus Stops, Step 2: Build Schedules, and Step 3: Generate GTFS to view the instructional videos for each step. These videos will walk you through the process of getting your agency's route and schedule data into Google Transit. 

There are videos on Advanced Topics for those who are interested, as well as useful Additional Resources. You can also still access all of the Archived Videos – older GTFS Builder videos that are still accurate and sometimes more detailed than the newer videos. 

Click here to get started with the instructional videos for Step 1: Gather Bus Stops.