Oregon's public transportation system receives grant to enhance online trip planning

Feb. 24, 2021

For more information: Shelley M. Snow, Communications, 503-881-5362, shelley.m.snow@odot.state.or.us

SALEM – It’s pretty easy to use an online trip planning tool when you’re talking about buses on a fixed route and regular schedule; most transit districts in Oregon and elsewhere have tools for that – just go to their website or a trip planner like Google Map and plan your trip.

But what if you live in a rural area without such regular service, or you use a wheelchair or other mobility device and need to make sure your ride is accessible? Or maybe you qualify for other types of special public transportation, where you have to schedule a pick-up and drop-off: how can you plan for and book the right bus that will get you where you need to go?

Such travelers in Oregon, Washington and California will soon have an easier time doing just that. It’s thanks to a $5.3 million ITS4US grant from the Federal Highway Administration.

“Currently, many of our transit riders can’t use an online trip planning tool, and that’s going to change,” said ODOT Public Transportation Manager Marsha Hoskins. “With this grant, we’ll make progress toward ensuring trip planning tools are fully available to people no matter where they live, no matter what their circumstance.”

Right now, online trip planning tools or apps typically don’t have the vital information needed to plan, book and pay for special transit services. A large group of partners got together to improve those options. The resulting grant is being administered by the California Association for Coordinated Transportation (CALACT), and the partners in the effort include ODOT, WSDOT, Caltrans, Google, Trillium Solutions, and many other for-profit, non-profit, and governmental organizations. The project, called “Plan, book, and pay for demand-responsive transit agencies in CA, OR, and WA,” is kicking off this week and will continue through 2025.

Background

Since the development of General Transit Feed Specifications (GTFS) and Google Transit trip planner more than a decade ago, online and mobile trip planning tools for fixed route transit have proliferated. More than half of the fixed-route transit agencies in the U.S. publish GTFS, which is used by the U.S. Department of Transportation, many state transportation departments, academic researchers, regional planners, and hundreds of consumer applications. Thousands of transit systems publish GTFS data globally; Oregon GTFS is available at https://oregon-gtfs.com/. However, most trip planners based on GTFS only represent fixed-route transit and don’t provide information about the accessibility of transit services.

The Complete Trip – ITS4US Deployment Program is funding 24 proposals from 15 states; Oregon joined with California and Washington in submitting the successful proposal.

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