The Age Of Transit Transparency
A study that examines the history of transit transparency -- the release of transit schedules, routes and real-time feeds for third-party use -- has been added to the Resource Center best practices database.
Released in June 2012, "Transit Transparency: Effective Disclosure through Open Data" was a project of Transparency Policy Project, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Harvard Kennedy School.
"Changing course from customer-information strategies controlled entirely inside agencies to processes where agencies and developers played complementary roles in delivering customized information to riders constituted a significant shift for transit agencies," the researchers note.
The study looks at the experiences of five agencies:
- Portland's TriMet, the first agency to make data publically available, working with Google to create open standards for transit data. The first data was released in 2006.
- Boston's MBTA, an early adopter of open data, which released its first data in 2009.
- Chicago's CTA, classified by researchers as one of the early majority of systems to allow public access to transit data, releasing its data in 2009.
- Washington, DC, WMATA, classified a late majority adopter of transit data transparency, released its first data in 2009-2010.
- New York's MTA, classified a late adopter, which didn't release its data until 2010
"Public disclosure of operations information was a novel approach for transit agencies," the researchers note. "They had not anticipated that outside developers — who were also transit riders — would be interested in working with the same raw data that engineers were using internally to manage such vast and complex transportation systems."