How to link Vehicles to Trips for RT-GTFS?

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Yash Ganthe

Sep 6, 2021, 12:11:19 AMSep 6

If we have a GTFS feed and want to set up an RT-GTFS, we would need to maintain a mapping between a GPS-fitted vehicle and the corresponding Trips it is scheduled to make. The location updates come from a vehicle. The Vehicle ID and the latest location is thus known. However, this needs to be linked to a Trip so that RT-GTFS shows the status of the Trip. What tools are generally used to make this mapping? 


Sep 6, 2021, 11:58:26 PMSep 6
to datameet
Hi Yash,
Logically, there should ideally be a device in bus/app on mobile where the conductor/driver manually selects the Trip Id and indicates it is started. In reality, I have not seen this implemented in any Indian RT-GTFS feeds. As a result, GPS locations almost never match the trip paths. I have seen situations where the morning TRIP_ID is carried through entire day with the bus moving in entire city.
If you find a workable solution and implement the feed, please let me know. A clean RT-GTFS dataset would be goldmine of information.

Sep 7, 2021, 1:44:56 AMSep 7
to datameet
Many bus agencies must be providing real time data already. How does it work in their case?


Nikhil VJ

Sep 7, 2021, 2:07:57 AMSep 7
to datameet
Hi Yash,

Here is a site where lot of GTFS related solutions are collected together; its maintained by a network of people working in the sector:

Mentioned there is one tool being used by a lot of folks in other countries for figuring out the trip_id and other stuff:
It's not a simple solution. Their mailing list will give a good picture of what all it takes.

What Rigved has mentioned is unfortunately the situation for most bus transit systems, and it's unfortunate seeing that a lot of investment and buzz went into fitting buses with GPS, but they didn't bother looking into how they will update which route number the vehicle is on.
It would possible to set it up if one can get a buy-in from the bus agency.

Here's what in my opinion would be a lowest effort way to do it:
- Make a mobile app for depot managers. Every depot logs in here.
- Have them input the bus's unique number (usually a serial number painted on the bus, or the license plate number), and the route the bus is going on, the departure time and submit.
- This information is sent by the app to the backend system where the GPS data is also flowing in
- Now this backend system is able to attach route_id with each vehicle and change it when the route changes.
- It'll be possible for backend to determine which trip_id under that route this is on with some programming work put in.

At present, bus depots maintain registers where they write in which bus is going on which route and which driver and conductor. There is also a lot of paperwork later for compiling the data together to submit up the management chain. This intervention would be attractive if this writing business was replaced by digital medium and it also removes most of the paperwork burden.

But at the same time a level of flexibility and autonomy needs to be maintained. You shouldn't have the HQ breathing down their necks and micro-managing things. The Depot managers are weighing in a ton of tacit real world parameters when making decisions about which bus to send on which route, including human requirements of the personnel, street level complications etc. The dynamic decision making process goes a long way in optimizing the transit agency's utilization, efficiency, costs etc and it would be tragic to lose that all in a blind technocratic digitization rush.

Extra: I have a net negative faith in the AI/ML lobby's advertised promises to take care of this stuff. I trust the depot managers far higher and believe working with them will give better results than trying to replace them. But that's just an unqualified personal opinion.

Nikhil VJ

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Sep 7, 2021, 2:46:32 AMSep 7
to datameet
The App in the hands of DM should allow him to assign a vehicle to a Schedule. A Schedule is a set of trips on different routes. So bus MH12X001 is assigned Schedule 30A which has a trip on route 103 at 06:00 am to Kothrud. At 07:00 am the bus is scheduled to run on route 102 to Lohgaon. As soon as the bus reaches Kothrud at 06:45, it gets assigned to the 07:00 am trip automatically.
The DM can of course take dynamic decisions based on his experience and change the bus, change the driver etc. But capture this digitally.
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