GTFS stands for the General Transit Feed Specification. GTFS defines a common format to describe schedule, route, stop, fare, and calendar data for fixed-route transit services.
GTFS "feeds" allow public transit agencies to publish their transit data and developers to write applications that consume that data in an interoperable way. GTFS data is used the integrate transit information into websites and applications. One of the most widely recognized is the Google Maps transit trip planner.
Overview of a GTFS feed
The routes.txt file contains information about the routes of the transit agency, the calendar.txt and calendar_dates.txt files contain schedule information, and the trips.txt and stop_times.txt files contain information about the order of visitation of bus stops for a particular route according to a particular schedule. The shapes.txt file contains the spatial representation of a route alignment so it can be accurately drawn on a map.
Making a Transit Feed Publicly Available
GTFS data is made available when it is hosted on a web-server. There are main directories for making GTFS data discoverable for 3rd party application developers:
- What is GTFS? (Google Developers site)
- General Transit Feed Specification Reference
- General Transti Feed Spec Changes discussion group