Open-source software

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By investing in open-source software, government agencies, companies, and non-profit organizations can leverage their investments to create shared, public benefits. In effect, those who invest in open-source software are attempting to "pool" their investments to create software that lives in the public commons. Part of organizations' hoped-for return on their open-source investments is that other organizations will also invest in ongoing, incremental improvements to the same software, yielding continued benefits at no additional cost. Additionally, adopting open-source software can reduce vendor lock-in to high-cost, proprietary software.[1]

Practices that support open-source software

Developing open-source software is a complex undertaking given the competing demands of software code that is both (a) sufficiently generalizable to be useful to a diverse array of users, and (b) sufficiently tailored to any given end-users' needs. It is also challenging to coordinate open-source software development, especially when there are many users likely to be impacted by any given change. Public-sector transportation agencies can advance open-source software development using the following strategies, among others:

  • Adding open-source requirements to software procurements
  • Adding a budget line-item and/or project task for the "open-sourcing" and related documentation of newly developed code
  • Clearly communicate successes and open-source software implementations
  • Coordinate with peer agencies to identify list of shared priorities and share costs for larger 'capital' improvements to open-source code blocks.

Transportation agencies supporting open-source software

  • MTA
  • MBTA
  • Sound Transit
  • Caltrans
  • Oregon DOT

Private companies developing open-source transportation software

  • Cambridge Systematics
  • Conveyal
  • IBI Group
  • Interline

Non-profit organizations developing open-source transportation software

  • Zephyr Foundation

Open-source transportation software projects

The Awesome Transit Github page also provides a list of open-source software projects.


  • Provides an API optimized for accessing real-time transit information
  • Includes open-source native apps for iOS, Android, Amazon Alexa, Google Glass
  • Can consume GTFS-realtime and other real-time formats
  • Deployed in 10 cities with more than 1 million users
  • Available for iOS and Android


  • Provides an API optimized for multimodal trip planning, including bikeshare
  • Can consume GTFS-realtime, General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS)
  • At least 13 production deployments globally, including the LA Metro and MBTA websites


  • Generating arrival/departure predictions given raw vehicle data
  • Can export predictions in GTFS-realtime and other formats
  1. [1] "Can Open Source Transit Software Survive?" TransportationCamp 2018. Discussion moderated by Sean Barbeau and Kari Watkins. Retrieved 17 January 2018
  2. [2] OneBusAway. Retrieved 17 January 2018
  3. [3]OpenTripPlanner. Retrieved 17 January 2018
  4. [4] TheTransitClock. Github. Retrieved on 17 January 2018.