[Open-transport] Open Data Public Transport List?

Andrew Byrd andrew at fastmail.net
Thu Jul 18 12:36:32 UTC 2013


I know this might seem pedantic, but we need to clarify our terms if
we're going to talk seriously about standardization.

GTFS is not an API. It is what Brian referred to as a "bulk data
format". Generally, an API is the outwardly visible interface of a
software component. It is an engineering construct that facilitates

In the specific context of programming, a library's API is the set of
functions and data structures it exposes to its users.

In the specific context of interconnected systems on the web, a web API
is a set of "endpoints" or URLs accompanied by HTTP request/response
specifications that allow a user to retrieve or update data. Nowadays,
these APIs are frequently constrained to have "RESTful" behavior.

GTFS is simply a tabular text representation of transport schedules and
related entities like stops. It is basically a CSV dump of a database
snapshot: a bulk data format.

An API can be made to retrieve subsets of a bulk data set or derived
information on demand. To avoid a lot of ugly and error-prone
conversion, ideally the bulk formats and APIs should share the same
vocabulary or ontology (a carefully chosen and defined list of terms
accompanied by axioms and relationships).

Perhaps these terms should be clarified in informational OKFN documents
on open data.


On 07/18/2013 01:42 PM, Patrick Wolowicz wrote:
> In my opinion, one of the important things that is missing (correct
> me if I'm wrong) is a list of public transport authorities that
> provide their data as open data and which API they use. While there
> are hundreds of transport authorities, there's actually only a
> handful of APIs.
> There's a rudimentary list here: http://www.citygoround.org/agencies/
> . Unfortunately it's very untechnical, it doesn't contain information
> on which API is provided (GTFS, MDV, Hacon, etc) nor where one can
> find documentation about the API.
> Why would such a list be important?
> 1) It would allow the open data community to see which APIs are most
> used. If someone is considering writing a converter between one API
> to another, the developer could see which regions would be covered
> and which APIs the developer can test against. 2) The list could be
> used to demonstrate how wide spread public transport open data is
> when talking to officials in areas where the APIs are still closed. 
> 3) There are already developers (like me) out there that have
> programmed apps/services for their open data region and would love to
> provide their apps/services in other open data regions. At the moment
> we have to google the region we're interested in and maybe find a
> website with information about the existing API buried deep inside
> the transport authorities web page. Often these pages are in the
> regional language making it hard for developers to find/read them. A
> centralised list would lead to a quicker adaptation of these open
> data APIs. More apps would be available in more regions, to more
> people, demonstrating the benefits of open data for every day use.
> So my question is has anyone in the open data transport community
> started such a list and if yes, could we put it up on the web for
> everyone (for example on https://github.com/OpenTransport)? Or if
> not, can we start one?
> Best regards, Patrick Wolowicz http://subzero.eu/wann 
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