GTFS-Flex officially adopted into GTFS

In a historic moment for the transit data world, GTFS-Flex—the extension that enables discovery of demand-responsive services in trip planning applications—was officially adopted to GTFS. The overwhelming support shown through the vote (a record number of participants!) reflects the value stakeholders across the industry place on this empowering technology. 


The journey to adoption

The successful vote is the culmination of over eleven years of collaborative work across many companies, nonprofits, transit agencies, and government agencies. Trillium, an Optibus company, is proud to have had a hand in this monumental effort since the beginning through specification design, data creation for hundreds of demand-responsive services, and by helping inform wider audiences on Flex’s capabilities. We are confident both our past and present efforts bring us closer to the vision where any rider can easily discover any transit service, including on-demand, route deviation, “Dial-a-Ride,” and more.


The value of experience

Those familiar with contributing to an open data standard know that bringing a GTFS extension as groundbreaking as Flex through a successful vote is no small feat. Fortunately, Trillium was well-positioned to serve as an enabling force as the community met this challenge. Thanks to the many lessons we’ve learned from our hands-on experience as leading producers of GTFS-Flex data, we were able to serve as resident Flex experts (Flexperts?) for multiple working groups and assist in documenting best practices and implementation guidance.


The power of collaboration

For us, though, such victories in standards adoption are predicated on cooperation among a multidisciplinary coalition of participants. Shaping Flex from an idea into the specification it is today took us and our partners years establishing sponsorship for the work, collecting use cases, designing, testing, redesigning… We encountered many technical challenges together, some of which required laying aside our previously held assumptions to put good spec design first. The result? A stronger, more resilient framework for modeling demand-responsive transit within GTFS-based systems; the 17 other organizations who voted in favor of Flex’s adoption seem to agree.

We thank our colleagues at MobilityData for their instrumental stewardship of Flex and all other GTFS extension efforts, and we thank all our partners for their continued collaboration in expanding GTFS’s capabilities.


If you are an agency who is interested in having your demand-responsive services modeled with GTFS-Flex so they can be represented in trip planning applications, please contact us here.