[Talk-transit] Again about time tables, and some interesting sites

Andrei Klochko transportsplan3 at gmail.com
Sun Dec 5 07:07:16 GMT 2010


I'm kind of quite new to osm, but it has been 6 months that I'm pursuing
this idea of a public transport router. At the very beginning, of course I
thought I would be alone, but very early I stumbled over this site:
if you want to see what a really accomplished PT information site looks
like, check this out. And realize your own tinyness...and just for the
story, I phoned to the manager of the company maintaining this site
(Moviken): if you count all their filials in Czezch republic and so on, they
are only 20 people, including director, secretaries, commercial employees
and so on, to make a roughly 90% complete PT map of France, WITH 20% of
lines having timetables, and the remaining 80% having frequencies!
These sites exist. And have existed for a very long time: itransport started
in as early as 2003, if my memory is correct! And it is not the only one:
check transportdirect.info (UK). If you want another one, absolutely
complete for a limited region, check this one: transport-idf.com. Although
it has limited "map" support, it scores ALL transport lines in the
Ile-de-France Region, which, as I was told, was 10 million triplets
station/line/time of stop. Quite a catch...
The point is: although these sites have had a huge advance in time compared
to all these sites we see today, they nevertheless have a very low
frequentation: for itransports.fr it barely overgoes 1000 visits a day, and
estimated advertising revenue is around...20 dollars a day, even
less...that's all! For such a useful site...
And they made these sites, although we all know the difficulty of such kind
of project.
But, at least in french law, as far as the opinions of the lawyers I
consulted about this question were correct, any individual or company has
the right, to download one by one the timetables - and transportation plans!
- of any transport company, to extract the data (timetables: only the data
itself, and plans: only the path of the buses, of course, but that's all
that is needed!) from its support and presentation, and to incorporate it in
any database we want, without asking any permission. If we do it "one by
one": We have to *recreate *the database so as not to violate any right!
Because I have indeed tried to ask permissions from the public transport
operators to use their timetables and plans. But I must be bad at asking,
because after a long time without any answers I finally got one or two by
"force", and it appeared that transport agencies have a dichotomic vision of
"timetables": they would jealously protect their "timetable database file",
as a standalone database; but when they understand you just want to use
publicly accessible one-line timetables, that you would download or copy one
by one, they say "ah! Of course, ok, if you want to do this! but it's a lot
of work...". I already thought of a wiki-style (and even dailymotion style,
at the times I am the most optimistic) site, where users would really
consent to contribute to this database, by adding the timetables and paths
of their nearby transportation lines. Of course, if you have to deal with
mistakes in such kind of data, then multimodal routing will become a bit
problematic, but I think with a proper do/undo log, history, relevance of
author of changes and so on, you could come up with something. Until tonight
I really thought it could work, that I could start my own site, even an
associative one, on this topic, but every time I "look around further", I
realize how ignorant and retarded I am in all of this, so many competent,
involved, and supported people have already started the battle long before
me, although I thought I had ideas, my ideas would probably vanish for
almost all of them, once I will really have enough knowledge of the reality
of the situation I am getting into.

But after these 24hours in front of my screen, after passing law issues,
reacheing as much information about transit sites everywhere in the world as
I could, I have to go to sleep. Maybe later today, when I wake up, I will
have better thoughts...

I have been alone in all of this, never found anyone who would have really
thought about the question, both on an algorithmic side, on the
business-plan or association-plan side (in real detail), that would have
really been competent over the multiple and weird law issues (just to give
one: when you reference a line by its operator, you make a reuse of a
trademark, and this could be forbidden depending on the conditions...I have
not solved that one yet...). I always thought the central problem was legal,
because as soon as you have found a way to bypass the operators' agreement
on the reuse of their data, then you are free to crawl the web and gather
everything you like, without any delays or endless and repetitive calls to
deaf companies that doesn't even give a **** about your project because they
know that their line is making profit without your help, and because they
want to keep control over their transit information...
So, i've said what I knew, if anyone still wants to help me, I would really
been grateful, because I'm tired of fighting this fight alone. Good...very
end of night...
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