Welcome, Apple

This is a long-overdue congratulations and acknowledgement of Apple’s addition of transit directions in the iOS 9 software that runs on iPhones, iPads, and iPods. In September, this iOS upgrade added public transit directions to Apple’s default maps application.

See more on the iOS Maps page on apple.com or this June 8 article on theverge.com. As of December 2015, Apple Maps supports the following regions (you can see updates to supported regions on apple.com):

  • Baltimore, MD
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • China
  • London, England
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • New York City, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Washington, DC

I was able to use Apple Maps earlier this year during visits to the SF Bay Area. The coverage of transit networks in Apple Maps is very complete in the area, and my understanding is that Apple has aimed to comprehensively describe the public transportation network in every region that is covered.

There are some really nice touches to the transit directions feature; for example, cartography shows the pedestrian and transit network, and transit station entrance and exit locations are consistently shown (see screenshot below). Through using the app and comparing to the publicly available source GTFS datasets, it quickly becomes apparent that Apple cleaned and augmented the data used for trip planning.


The advent of another major contender in the transit directions space means that riders have more options. We have a new source of design innovation and competition. And, this means that we will have new and important voices and stakeholders in the GTFS community.

Quality transit applications require quality data. And, to scale, this will require abundant data from all over the world. I am looking forward to Apple’s engagement in the open transit data effort.

Aaron is the founding principal of Trillium Solutions, Inc. He brings experience that includes 12 years of web-development with 8 years in public transportation, with knowledge of fixed-route transportation, paratransit, rural transportation, and active transportation modes. Aaron is a recognized expert in developing data standards, web-application design, digital communications, and online marketing strategy. He originally developed Trillium’s GTFS Manager, and has played a key role in the development of the GTFS data specification since 2007.