[Talk-transit] Public Transport routing

Peter J Stoner stonerpj at mytraveline.info
Mon Sep 7 16:37:37 BST 2009

In message on 7 Sep 2009,  Frankie Roberto  wrote:

> 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
> transport.

It can do the reverse of course if people realise the public transport 
will take much longer.  This could be the exacerbated with the 
"outline" method if generous interchange margins were felt necessary.  
It would be fair to add time to park a car and breaks at the 
recommended intervals on longer car journeys.

There is a role for an "outline" approach but perhaps not as part of a 
comparison modal comparison of fastest journey.

>  > 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
> though.

The bottom line is that Traveline gets its information from the copy 
of the bus timetable registration that the regulations in the UK 
require a bus company to send to the local authority.  (Slightly 
different in London and Northern Ireland).  This applies to timetables 
but not fares.  Sometimes local agreements enable richer data to be 
passed from the operator to Traveline.

>>> 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.

I usually turn on the GPS when one a new bus route and have added 
several routes in the UK on this basis.  Sometimes it is a bit 
difficult to be sure exactly which way the bus goes and getting this 
very accurate in OSM is one of the advantages that OSM may be able to 

Peter J Stoner
UK Regional Coordinator         www.travelinedata.org.uk

a trading name of
Intelligent Travel Solutions Ltd  company number 3826797
Drury House, 34-43 Russell Street, LONDON WC2B 5HA

More information about the Talk-transit mailing list