Building your City’s Mobile and Web-based Journey Planner

Three directions to choose from

Many cities in the world need digital public transportation solutions: a World Bank study estimated for the year 2015 that 35% of the world’s largest cities and 92% of the largest cities in low and middle-income countries, do not have complete transit maps for planning or passenger information. This is currently undergoing a rapid change with new technologies. A lot of cities have started planning or implementing digital systems around public transportation data and services. One of the primary uses of technology in public transportation is to provide a passenger information system, or transit navigator or journey planning apps. This article gives a quick overview of the options cities have to successfully create one. Without reinventing the wheel – which would be a bad idea anyway – cities have three general directions they can choose from.

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Now it is the time: Transit maps for everybody!

The simplest Open Source passenger information system.

OpenStreetMap's mobile application OsmAnd included recently time-less offline routing for public transportation in their Android version. This closes the gap of crowd-sourced mapping of public transport lines and stops to be provided directly as a useful digital tool that people can use - a minimal viable product made by and for a worldwide community of practice! Now, every single bus line, which has been put on OpenStreetMap becomes directly useful for everybody who just installs the OsmAnd application. This is a huge opportunity especially for the many cities in the world with a public transportation system, but without a map of it.

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Mobile applications for Nicaragua's public transport

How OpenStreetMap data was made available to people's smartphones

After the Nicaraguan OpenStreetMap community crowd-sourced with over 250 interested citizens the data of their capital's public transportation system in OpenStreetMap, a schematic paper map was created from this data. In a next step the community wanted to offer state-of-the-art routing applications to the visitors and inhabitants of Managua. For this, the data from OpenStreetMap was combined with also crowd-sourced schedule information by the Sofware tool osm2gtfs. The result is the common format for public transport data - GTFS -, which was then possible to include into existing applications, where the data can be used now...

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osm2gtfs, extendable for any city

Convert data from OpenStreetMap into GTFS

osm2gtfs is a community based initiative for the development of a versatil tool to convert data from OpenStreetMap about public transport, combine it with external schedule information in order to create a General Transit Feed (GTFS). The Software has been programmed by community members of Brasil, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and France. Now osm2gtfs can be used without any programming skills, whenever using our defined input format. And, of course, with programming skills it is always flexibly extendedable to support any other city's particularities and sources for schedules.

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The true geographers are in the buses

Passengers created the public transportation map of Managua

When there is no map for the 1670 kilometers of metropolitan Managua’s public 45 bus lines network, there is only one thing you and anybody can do: Ask the people in the buses how to get from one point to another. The passengers of this complex - and naturally grown network within the capital - know most about it. And two years ago, a group of inhabitants of Managua by own initiative decided to take the feat and create the first bus network map in whole Central America.

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