[Talk-transit] Public Transport routing

Frankie Roberto frankie at frankieroberto.com
Mon Sep 7 16:06:58 BST 2009

Hi all,

I've been reading this thread with much interest, but haven't had time to
properly reply until now.

2009/9/5 Sarah Hoffmann <lonvia at denofr.de>

What I was thinking about (and how I understood Frankie) is
> a journey planer that tells you how to get from A to B without
> too much details on timetables. For example:
> <snip>
> Travel information Rendlesham,GB to Trets,FR:
> take the bus to Melton, then the train to London, Eurostar to Paris,
> TGV to Aix-en-Provence TGV, the shuttle bus to Aix-en-Provence and the
> regional bus to Trets.
> Approximate travel time: 13 hours (not including waiting for connections),
> All services served regularly except bus to Trets which doesn't run on
> Sundays.
> Websites with time tables: ....
> <snap>
> Just gathering this kind of information takes hours nowadays. There
> may be integrated systems like Travelline for some countries, but as
> soon as you try to cross their boundaries you are lost. This is exactly
> where
> OSM could show its strengths.

Yep, this is exactly what I was thinking. It would be hugely valuable, and
would really show the value of OSM.  One of the advantages of being able to
have this kind of outline travel data is that OSM routing services (like
Cloudmade's) could show public transport options alongside traditional
driving directions, which is key for the (admittedly slightly political)
ambition of helping/persuading people to shift from cars to using public

 > A) A point where all the world's public transport access points (bus
> > stops,station etc) are in OSM (but not the routes) and then all the
> > route and other schedule information is available from some other DB
> > B) A point where all the world's public transport access points (bus
> > stops,station etc) and all the routes are in OSM and all the other
> > schedule information is available from some other DB
> > C) A point where all the world's transport schedules are in OSM and get
> > updated on a regular basis by Bots?
> Personally, I would have stopped with A and put everything else in an
> external database. But in the last months it
> has become quite obvious that there are a lot of people interested
> in this topic and are willing to invest quite a bit of time to get
> routes added to the database. So, it looks like B is crowdsourcable, too.
> I was only proposing to add frequencies and travel times (not timetables!)
> to those routes that are being added to OSM anyways. They should be
> as stable (or unstable, in the case of GB) as the routes themselves.

I think B is eminently reachable (hey, we're not far off for monorails).

I can't even see a way in which full schedules can currently be added to
OSM, so this is a bit of a non-starter for the time being.  I'm not too
fussed whether the timetable data eventually gets stored in OSM, or in
another database - it doesn't make a huge amount of difference, so long as
it works. If it's in OSM, it'll need to be hidden from regular map editors,
and would probably need a separate interface. If it's in another database,
then there would have to be some cast-iron way of linking the two
(referencing relation IDs might work, so long as they're relatively stable),
plus you'd probably end up with libraries or API services which combine the
two anyway.

As far as I can see it, the problem of making timetable info available isn't
so much technical, as practical and legal (although it seems that in the UK,
operators are obliged to provide the data to Traveline?). Ticket pricing and
seat availability is even more tricky.  As the internet becomes ever more
essential to route planning, and as public transport climbs the political
and environmental agenda (hopefully), I think we'll eventually get there

> > I suggest that we focus for now on getting all the bus stops and public
> > transport routes from all of the 85 Google Transit feeds that are already
> > available for reuse[2]

I wasn't aware of these feeds. How easy are they to read (given that we only
need route info, and not timetables)?

To be honest, I've just been using a mixture of actual experience, and
looking at the printed timetables, to add the route info to OSM.


Frankie Roberto
Experience Designer, Rattle
0114 2706977
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