Use of the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) in Transit Planning

The 15th TRB National Transportation Planning Applications Conference will be held in Atlantic City, New Jersey on May 17-21

Topic Area: Incorporating GIS in Transportation Planning

One challenge faced in the Baltimore region is the lack of adequate public transportation between the urban core of Baltimore City and the suburban employment growth centers. This is exacerbating the intractable concentrations of poverty and disenfranchisement in the City, as observed by the “Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice” (AI) in 2012, as part of a HUD Sustainable Communities Grant. Strategies must be developed to coordinate transportation, housing and workforce planning in future regional planning initiatives.

With the advent and popularity of the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), data-driven transit planning is becoming increasingly desirable and feasible. This study focuses on the utilization of GTFS and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to evaluate transit services and transit access to jobs through a dynamic, integrated multi-modal transit network dataset.

Location-based recommendations on transit service improvements are developed through a three-stage analysis. First, using GTFS data, the transit service index is applied to evaluate transit service both spatially and temporally ? service coverage, service frequency, and span of service. Second, with the multi-modal transit network being developed, the paper identifies geographic areas in which people lack access to the employment centers by transit/walk/bike in the morning peak hours. Finally, by combining these analyses with census data on highly transit-dependent population groups, for instance, people with no access to a private vehicle, the disabled, or with low-income, the analysis identifies areas with the greatest need for improved transit services.

The study is important for making better data-driven decisions, which in turn can provide improved and more efficient transit service for the identified locations and targeted populations. This study would also be beneficial to the development of a regional plan that strengthens the coordination among transportation, housing and workforce planning.