GTFS Builder Getting Started Guide

This document provides a self-guided tour of National RTAP’s GTFS Builder for General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data management.

GTFS Builder includes simple Excel-based data management tools and instructional videos. The instructional videos will walk you through gathering and inputting your transit stop locations, bus routes and schedule data into the GTFS Builder Excel files. This guide complements screenshots and live demonstration in the videos. Once your data is output as a .zip file, you will validate it, request an account to test your data and upload the file so that it can be sent to Google Transit and other trip planners and much more.


First Things First

You must have a Cloud Account to log into National RTAP in the Cloud and have access to GTFS Builder.  If you do not have a Cloud Account, you can create one by clicking the “Cloud Signup” button in the top right corner of this page and following the step-by-step instructions.  If you already have a Cloud Account, you can log in using the “Cloud Login” button also in the top right corner of this page. Once logged into the Cloud, you will see GTFS Builder listed in the left toolbar.


Overview Videos & Two Excel Workbooks

The three one-hour Step 1, 2, and 3 Workshop Webinars walk you through the process of getting your route and schedule data into a trip planner application like Google Transit. For staff ready to jump in, you can view the components of these webinars broken into brief (2-5 minute) instructional videos. The workshop webinars and instructional videos are located in the GTFS Builder Support Center on the Instructional Videos page for each step.

Before you begin the process of gathering your data and downloading the various tools you will need, we suggest you watch the following videos: 

  • Should My Agency Proceed with GTFS Builder? (available on the GTFS Builder landing page)
  • Summary View of Files Generated and Common Terms (available on the Archived Videos page)

GTFS Builder manages data using two Excel spreadsheets, which are part of the GTFS Builder toolkit that you download from the Dashboard in the Cloud:

  • SchedulesV2 (to generate and manage schedules)
  • Import Export (to generate all the required files)


Additional Resources

The following additional resources and links may also answer questions you have regarding GTFS Builder:


Summary Task Wheel for GTFS Builder



The highlighted sections one through six offer a quick reminder of how to update and rebuild data for any service updates.

Now that your agency has decided to continue with GTFS Builder, below are the steps you will need to take.


TaskWheel_step1.JPGStep 1: Gather Bus Stops

This series of videos will help you:

  • get set up for this project,
  • engage the Excel macros,
  • and gather or load your bus stop data into the Stops Tab in the Import/Export Workbook.

1.0     Pre-flight, Jump In
1.1     What do I need to start?
1.2     GTFS Builder Concepts and Terms
1.3     Learning tools/ Resources & Dashboard
1.4     Two Excel GTFS Builder Workbooks
1.5     Macros
1.6     Associated GTFS data from a Trip Plan
1.7     GTFS Specification Reference
1.8     Data Output
1.9     Map & Route Display: Output "Shapes" Optional
1.10   Why Bus Stops First and Can We Display Flag Stops
1.11   Bus Stop Location Data May Be Found Here
1.12   Methods to Gather or Tune-up Bus Stops
1.13   Step 1: Assignment = Bus Stops
1.14   Step 1: Assignment = Set-up Computer Workspace
1.15   Step 1: Assignment = Google Validation Tools (Overview)
1.16   No-cost Google License sample agreement
1.17   Managing Expectations
1.18   No-cost Hosting at National RTAP
1.19   Features Omitted in Simple Steps 1-2-3




Step 2: Build Schedules

This step gathers and loads your schedule data into the GTFS Builder Workbooks.

You may have run cards or bus schedules in Excel that you can link to the GTFS Builder Schedules Workbook.

2.1     Overview: Schedules Workbook
2.2     Build the Schedules Stop-by-Stop to Generate stop_times and trips
2.3     Managing and Updating Trip Variations (delete a stop, add a stop)
2.4     Timepoints vs Non-Timepoint
2.5     Route_id, Service_id for Day of the Week, Direction_id
2.6     Headsigns
2.7     Output stop_times & trips from Schedules Workbook
2.8     Resolving Common Errors
2.9     Why Odd Time Format in stop_times?


Step 3: Generate, Validate, and Test GTFS

TaskWheel_step3.JPG This series of videos will assist you in gathering all remaining “static” data and putting it into the GTFS Builder Import/Export Workbook.



This step:

  • validates,
  • previews,
  • tests, and
  • launches your GTFS data in Google Transit.

3.1     Overview: Build One Route, Validate, Host & Post File
3.2     Agency (red tab ImportExport Workbook)
3.3     Calendar & Calendar Dates=Holidays (blue tabs in ImportExport Workbook)
3.4     Routes (golden yellow tab in ImportExport Workbook)
3.5     Stops (dark blue tab in ImportExport Workbook)
3.6     Stop_times (green tab in ImportExport Workbook)
3.7     Trips (purple tab in ImportExport Workbook)
3.8     Feed_info
3.9     Export and Compress Data files .zip
3.10   Start-to-end Build GTFS compressed, .zip file
3.11   Feed Validator with Warnings and Errors - Resolved
3.12   Google Account for Preview Testing
3.13   Free Hosting at National RTAP
3.14   Sign-up for Preview Testing at Google Maps
3.15   Partner Dash Walk-through
3.16   Feed Configuration for Manual or "Fetch" from National RTAP Server
3.17   When Does Data Go Live Each Week?
3.18   Fetch Fails
3.19   Data Visualization and Sample Trip Queries
3.20   Suggestions for Quality Assurance Review
3.21   Request to Launch
3.22   Launch Date is Proposed, Do Not Publicize Until Live (no log-in)
3.23   Launch and Go Live
3.24   ImportExport Data Maintenance: How often does this data change?


GTFS Builder Excel Data Associated with Sample Trip Plan

The following graphic associates the GTFS Builder Import/Export Workbook with a Google Transit trip plan: