Rename the "Google Transit Feed Specification" to the "General Transit
Feed Specification" to remove the increasingly misleading "Google"
When Google first worked with early transit partners to create the
original GTFS spec, we gave the document the descriptive title "Google
Transit Feed Specification", since it was simply the feed
specification consumed by Google Transit.
In the years since then, many more applications have started consuming
data in this format, and many transit agencies have begun using GTFS
to share their routes and schedules with all application developers,
not just Google. There are many feeds on sites like
gtfs-data-exchange.com that were never intended for consumption by
It's time to bring the name in line with the current state of affairs.
Given the wide use of the format, and the community process that this
group uses to develop new extensions to the format, the "Google" in
GTFS is increasingly a misnomer, one that makes some potential users
shy away from adopting GTFS. A data format becomes useful as more
people use it, so if there are simple things that we can do to make
GTFS more appealing to potential users, we should do them.
In the past, some of you have suggested changing the name to the "Open
Transit Feed Specification", but it seems like a waste to switch from
one cryptic acronym that's at least somewhat widely used to a
different one ("OTFS") with no searchable history. On the other hand,
I've been through enough tech naming discussions to know that getting
consensus on a truly good, catchy name is almost always a long and
In light of this, I propose that we take the near-term step of
replacing the "G" in "GTFS" with "General", as we continue to work
towards the longer-term goal of a more self-sufficient community
I propose that we rename the feed specification to be the "General
Transit Feed Specification". This preserves searchable acronym "GTFS"
in the near term, while making it clearer that the format is used by
many more organizations than just Google Maps.
In addition, I propose that we remove the "Submitting a Transit Feed
to Google" section from the spec document, and remove or replace the
example images that illustrate how different data elements appear in