The California Minimum General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) Guidelines include a ten-point Data Process Checklist for agencies to ensure that agencies' GTFS data will provide the best possible experience to their riders.

January 26, 2021 Update

Is GTFS in fact the global transit data standard?

  • GTFS has the most widespread use of all transit schedule standards. As of January 26, 2021, the repository has 1,327 GTFS feeds representing transit in 677 cities. At the same date, Transit.Land had 1,231 feeds.
  • Even transit providers who publish in the other common standard, NeTEx, also publish to GTFS. There is a small number of other data standards which describe transit schedules, most notably: NeTEx (continental Europe), which is required by law by CEN, the European Commission of Standardization. Many transit providers required to publish NeTEx  also publish GTFS because it is the only format consumed by global trip planning applications, such as Google Maps.
  • GTFS is supported by national and global organizations. The World Bank published an assessment on Open Transport Data in 2016, determining that GTFS is both the “de facto standard for publishing transit data around the globe” and the preferred format for network analysis. In addition, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics uses GTFS data for the National Transit Map.

How has GTFS adoption increased during Cal-ITP's existence?

  • The TransitFeeds repository had 944 feeds on January 1, 2019 – 383 fewer than today, showing a 40% increase in the two years since Cal-ITP began. These represent global feeds, so Cal-ITP is not directly responsible, but it does show momentum for the standard.
  • Cal-ITP is directly responsible for static feeds being created for 27 California agencies in that previously had no standardized transit data in 2020. This brought statewide GTFS coverage among the 199 eligible transit providers from 164 (82%) to 191 (96%).
    • An agency can use GTFS to describe its service if it offers fixed route and fixed schedule service (Another 135 agencies only offer on-demand service).
    • Larger agencies are more likely to have GTFS. Those 164 agencies represented 98% of California passenger trips, and we are now chasing the long tail (>99.9%).

November 15, 2020 Update

The benchmark data below was collected by Cal-ITP using a sample of 100 California transit agencies in October 2020. This assessment used the following tools:

Cal-ITP will periodically update this state-wide assessment to track implementation of the Guidelines.

Data Process Checklist Item October 2020 Findings
1. Publish current transit data (GTFS and GTFS Realtime 2.0 feeds) at stable URLs. Agencies with static feeds that make them available at a stable URL: 84%
2. Publish static GTFS data feeds that include a high-fidelity shapes.txt, persistent agency, stop and route identifiers, and implement all recommendations made in the Best Practices for GTFS for transit services open to the general public for which the provider is responsible.

Average number of validation issues per static feed: 1.2

Agencies with no static validation issues: 36%

Average static feed Grading Scheme score: 14/21

3. Describe planned service changes in the static GTFS feed when they are known in advance. Publish a static GTFS feed update at least two weeks ahead of service updates to provide time for engaging with feedback from developers and data feed consumers. No data
4. Publish GTFS Realtime 2.0 Vehicle Positions, Trip Updates, and Service Alert feeds for fixed routes in the provider's officially published static GTFS data feed. Real-time vehicle information should be updated every 20 seconds or faster, have a trip_id that matches the static GTFS feed, persistent unique vehicle ids, and per-vehicle timestamps. Average number of validation issues per agency: 4.3
5. Make their GTFS and GTFS Realtime data feeds available on the feed aggregators and No Data
6. Publish static GTFS pathways (pathways.txt, levels.txt) for infrastructure operated by the provider with stairs, escalators, elevators, or other accessibility considerations. No Data
7. Offer GTFS and GTFS Realtime data without an extensive legal agreement, preferably under an open data license. Agencies with open data terms on a developer page: 35% 
8. GTFS Realtime APIs should have an uptime of greater than 99%. No data
9. Publish a single point of contact for GTFS data on the provider's website, and in the feed info component of GTFS, as well as offer a way for data consumers to register with the transit provider so that they can be easily reached.

Agencies with GTFS-specific contact information on a website: 20%

Agencies with GTFS-specific contact information in their static GTFS feed: 69%

10. Maintain a process for tracking and improving accuracy of technology systems and revisiting best practices and these Guidelines. No data