WASHINGTON – A new National Transit Map with stops, routes and schedules across the country could help commuters and tourists find new ways around traffic, and spot transit deserts.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is asking transit agencies to sign up for the program that will be used to help address gaps in access to transit and be a potential resource for those looking for a more complete picture of transportation across the country.
Beginning Mar. 31, 2016, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics will download and process the data from transit agencies that have signed up to be a part of the first national map later this year.
Since the plan was just announced on Friday, the details about which agencies will sign up to be included are not yet available.
Metro does provide a General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) download of its official schedule through its website, which is the same format that would be required to be added to the transit map.
The data provides scheduled service and stops for use in tools like the trip planners that can be found on Metro’s website or through Google Maps. As proposed in this case, the data can also provide for visualizations of areas transit is and is not serving.
Other transit agencies in the region including Montgomery County’s Ride On, Fairfax Connector, and Arlington’s ART have feeds that also include real-time updates, although that is not a focus of this national map.
Fairfax Connector says it will absolutely provide its data as part of the initiative.
Virginia Railway Express (VRE) and the Maryland Transit Administration which runs MARC, Baltimore’s local transit service and commuter buses, each have both the real time and standard schedule feeds available.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics says the national map will provide insight into how transit impacts economic and educational opportunities, increase the awareness of existing transit systems and schedules, and provide insight into the nation’s transportation system.