DemandTrans to lead development of USA’s ‘flexible transit’ data standard

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Founder Dr Roger Teal and his DemandTrans company have been selected to lead the USA’s first-ever national effort to create a new and more efficient data standard that can dramatically increase the attractiveness and use of varied public transport services.

During the past decade, there has been an enormous increase in the availability and quality of data describing public transit services. Its value to consumers is that it has been generated in conformance with data standards established by a trusted entity, the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), initially developed by Google.

This data, when generated by a public transport organization and made available for dissemination, can be analyzed and used to inform transit service offerings.

However, GTFS data specifications have only been developed for traditional fixed route and fixed timetable public transport services; comparable data specifications do not currently exist for Demand-Responsive Technology (DRT) and other flexible transit services.

In an Uber and Lyft-centric society – where the convenience of on-demand, customizable solutions is transit customers’ new expectation – DRT, ‘flexible transit’, or Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is becoming the true prize. The ability to quickly access, interpret, and share data among varied sources via a new shared dynamic transit data standard is the key to unlocking new possibilities.

“There is compelling evidence suggesting that the development of transactional data specifications, while challenging, is feasible,” noted Teal (right).

“In fact, there already exists a data specification for DRT, namely the SUTI data standards established in Sweden during the 1990s. Not only have the SUTI standards existed for 20 years, but in Denmark they have been a foundational element in the development of technology for one of the most extensive DRT systems on the planet, which operates open access DRT throughout the entire country via its technology platform.

“That platform, and the technology in the vehicles that deliver the DRT service, rely on the SUTI standards in multiple important ways to handle transactional data for over 20,000 rides per day!”

To drive these efforts, Teal recently hired Niels Tvilling Larsen, the Danish technology expert who was instrumental in the design and launch of the FlexDenmark platform. Teal has also assembled an advisory panel that includes: transit software companies, such as Trapeze, RouteMatch, Ecolane, iCabi, and Giro; service providers Uber, Lyft, Via, Veyo, MV Transportation, and TransDev; and numerous transit consultancies and public agencies, such as Cambridge Systematics and Capital Metro (Austin).

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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