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What's a GTFS Feed and Why Do You Need One?

A General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) feed is a standardized data format that includes information about your system such as routes, stops, and schedules for buses, trains, and other transit services. By providing a standard format for transit data, GTFS feeds make it easier for developers to create applications that can help people plan their trips, navigate public transit systems, and get real-time information about delays and service disruptions.

Now that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has given guidance for transit systems to include their GTFS feeds as part of NTD reporting, it’s more important than ever to be sure you have a well-built, validated feed. Creating a good GTFS feed involves following several best practices that ensure that the data is accurate, complete, and easy to use.

If you plan to manage your feed in house, you can check out or the Rural Transit Assistance Program for guidance, and here are some best practices to consider:

  1. Use standardized naming conventions: Use consistent and standardized names for stops, routes, and other data fields. This will help prevent errors and inconsistencies. 
  1. Include all relevant data: Make sure your GTFS feed includes all relevant data about your transit services, such as routes, stops, schedules, and service changes. This will ensure that developers have access to all the information they need to build useful applications. 
  1. Keep your data up to date: Regularly update your GTFS feed to ensure that it reflects any changes to your transit services, such as changes to schedules or route configurations.  
  1. Validate your data: Validate your GTFS feed using a tool such as the Google Transit Feed Validator to ensure that it is compliant with the GTFS specification and does not contain any errors or inconsistencies. 
  1. Provide clear documentation: Provide clear and comprehensive documentation that explains how to use your GTFS feed and provides context for the various data fields. 
  1. Make your data easily accessible: Make your GTFS feed easily accessible to the public through a standard web-based interface, such as a publicly accessible API. This will encourage developers to use your data and build innovative applications that can improve the transit experience for riders. 

How to Get Help Managing Your GTFS Feed 

Managing your own GTFS feed can be a complex and time-consuming task, but it is possible to do it yourself if you have the necessary knowledge and resources. A great alternative is TransLoc’s Managed GTFS service. Our AICP-certified team can ensure that your feed is accurate, up-to-date, and compliant with the GTFS specification, and we can provide ongoing technical support and assistance with data validation and testing.  

TransLoc’s Managed GTFS service will save you time and resources, give you access to experts with a wealth of experience, and give you peace of mind knowing that your feed is managed by experts who are committed to providing you with the highest level of service. Learn more about our Managed GTFS Services.