Technology Components

The following are a list of products that Cal-ITP has identified as being available in the transit technology marketplace. Some vendors offer products that overlap these functionalities or provide multiple functionalities, but they generally correlate with these descriptions.

To see examples of which components agencies have implemented and how they work together, see Technology Stacks.


  • Scheduling software. When a transit agency creates a schedule, they're actually producing three distinct schedules that must intertwine: one for riders (where do the routes go), one for vehicles (which vehicle is available for each route), and one for drivers (who will operate the vehicle). Threading these three together into a coherent and legible schedule is no trivial task.
  • GTFS generation. Software that converts the schedule to the set of zipped .txt files that constitute static GTFS. This may be performed manually with spreadsheets, through a vendor's service, or in a complete GTFS product.
  • Alerts. When service changes after publication of the GTFS schedule, it is possible to describe differences between the schedule and planned service delivery in the GTFS Alerts format.

Computer-Aided Dispatch/Automatic Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL)

  • Automated Vehicle Location (AVL). Hardware that resides on the vehicle, paired with software, to track the vehicle's location. These systems potentially interface with several other systems in and out of the vehicle, or they can be as simple as an application running on a phone or tablet.
  • Arrival predictions. Converts the CAD/AVL output into real-time transit information. This could be in the standard GTFS-RT Vehicle Position and Trip Update formats or another non-standard format.
  • Mobile Data Terminal (MDT). In-vehicle hardware and software with which the driver can log in and input rider information, communicate with dispatch, provide driver manifests, and interact with the Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD).

Off-Board Rider Information

  • Web-based tools. Applications to understand routing options, such as stop-based arrival times and trip planning.
  • Off-board signage and annunciators. Digital signage and speakers at transit stops or stations that are integrated with the agency's real-time feed to provide riders with arrival info and alerts.
  • Real-time service alerts. Automated service that allows the agency to provide service alerts to riders through their real-time system.
  • SMS-based alerts. Information delivery services can also allow riders to request an Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) by SMS (text) message. This model creates new possible experiences, such as remote participation (the rider doesn't need to be at the stop to get an ETA) and push notification subscriptions (customized by route/stop/time/user).

Onboard rider information

  • Headsigns. A variable display outside the vehicle, integrated with the CAD/AVL system, which displays the direction, destination, and/or name of the vehicle's route.
  • Annunciator. A speaker inside the vehicle, integrated with the CAD/AVL system, which pronounces the name of the next upcoming stop and other pre-recorded messages.
  • Interior signage. Variable displays inside the vehicle, integrated with the CAD/AVL system, which display information about the route and upcoming stops.


  • Payment processor. An electronic service, typically a bank, that processes payments on the global networks maintained by Visa and Mastercard. This could be a transit-specific or general payment processing vendor.
  • Farebox. Type of fare collection unit onboard the vehicle. Some are non-electronic cash-only boxes, while others are electronic fareboxes that accept multiple kinds of fare payment and record payment information.
  • Transit price calculator. Software to compute and validate the fare charged to the rider.
  • Payment credential. A digital token that allows transit point of sale terminals (validators) to operate within the MasterCard and Visa networks.
  • Payment retail network. Hardware and software that enable customers to load cash value on their reloadable payment card or mobile wallet. Can be distributed within the transit system, such as in a station, at a retail location, such as a pharmacy or merchant terminal.
  • Customer service. A phone number, email, or website where customers can view their transactions, dispute erroneous charges, and provide feedback on their trip.
  • Mobile apps. Mobile applications that allow riders to buy fares on their mobile phone. Usually validated onboard with either a barcode scanner or visual inspection by the driver.

Passenger Counting

  • Automated Passenger Counting (APC). Hardware and software that can track boardings/alightings to create ridership counts. Can be certified for National Transit Database (NTD) reporting to reduce administrative burden. Counts can also be streamed with the vehicle location and published in GTFS-RT to give passengers crowding information about their arriving vehicle. Often integrated with the CAD/AVL system.


  • Internal. Tools that help the agency understand its own operations. Can include interactive displays, such as real-time playbacks, as well as numerical calculations, such as for NTD reporting. Can be integrated with CAD/AVL, farebox, and other systems.
  • External. Other entities want to know how their operations intersect and potentially conflict with transit operations. For example, if a construction project is being planned, it should be possible to know the transit that is scheduled to operate in that area during the project. Similarly, if a housing development is under consideration, it should be possible to know how well served the area is by transit.