GTFS isn’t just information—it’s marketing

Many public transit agencies use a Google trip planning widget on their website homepage to provide easy access to schedules without the need to wade through timetables. It’s clear in this way that GTFS data—the data that feeds not just Google’s trip planner, but basically every online trip planner—is great for customer information. It has gone from unknown to commonplace in less than 10 years.

However, GTFS isn’t just a convenient tool for your current riders—it also brings in new riders.

Trillium manages both GTFS and websites for public transit agencies, putting us in a convenient position to look at how users interact with agencies online. Recently, we’ve been investigating how web-traffic originating from the url fields within GTFS feeds performs on public transit websites.

The result: GTFS provides high quality sales leads for your agency.

In a survey over one month looking at over 130,000 total website hits on 12 public transit websites, we found that nearly 1% of total website traffic actually originated from GTFS files. That may not sound all that impressive, but that’s just the beginning. Of the website sessions that originated from GTFS links, users were 58% more likely to be new visitors, were 27% less likely to “bounce” off the website, visited 32% more pages, and spent 37% more time on the site.

For smaller agencies (those with fewer than 10,000 hits per month), GTFS provided even more traffic. 1.4% of total website traffic came from GTFS referrals. While smaller agencies were already much more likely to have new visitors, they still saw a 16% increase in the new visitor rate from GTFS. GTFS users were 34% less likely to bounce and visited 29% more pages.

In other words, GTFS doesn’t just bring users to your website, it brings new users who want to find out more about your service to your website.

GTFS puts tomorrow’s riders on your bus. Make sure they catch their ride.

Thomas brings to Trillium 7 years of experience in small business consulting and management, expertise in financial analysis and modeling, and a dedication to the creation of processes that serve our clients efficiently and effectively. He specializes in project management and business process development, leading Trillium’s website projects, consulting with agencies on marketing content, and integrating technology systems into agency business processes.

Thomas grew up in Portland, Oregon, and has been biking and riding TriMet as his primary forms of transportation since age 16. He is an avid gardener, learning to love shade-tolerant plants since moving into a house surrounded by large trees. Prior to working at Trillium, he researched and designed a portfolio of private equity investments in Ghana, and developed over a hundred financial models for businesses ranging in annual revenues from $100K to $100M.