Software Created to Solve Tampa’s Transit Problem Helps Other Agencies in California, France

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Software originally created to solve a public transit problem in Tampa is now used around the world.

University of South Florida researcher Sean Barbeau created software to help transit agencies share better arrivals in real time, and he helped the Hillsborough Transit Authority (HART) for nine years with to the OneBusAway app.

“In 2013, we were working with HART to launch the OneBusAway app in Tampa that tells people when their bus is coming, and we realized we really needed to look at the data in detail to make sure people were on their way. good quality information,” said Barbeau, the principal mobile software architect at USF’s Urban Transportation Research Center. “It flags errors early on, so they can be fixed before they happen. ‘reach someone when you open Google Maps, Apple Maps or the OneBusAway app here in Tampa.”

Fast forward to 2022, a few more transit agencies are jumping on the open source software.

“More recently, the State of California and the French federal government found it and realized that they could use this tool in all transit agencies in California and France, and be able to improve the quality for everyone at the same time”, says Barbeau.

The tool is one of a kind and can translate well from state to state using the General Transit Stream Specification (GTFS) that most U.S. transit agencies use, said Barbel.

“So it would be pretty easy for another state government to come in and say okay, we want to improve transit data for everybody in Florida, for example, and be able to do that in one blow. So we hope that happens,” he said.

The coding revealed just how broken real-time information is for Tampa riders, and Barbeau said he’s excited to see how other governments and transit agencies are using the software.

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