Wednesday, September 25, 2013

OneBusAway multi-region has officially launched!

We’d like to share some exciting news about the OneBusAway project - the multi-region initiative to bring OneBusAway to cities outside of the Puget Sound area has officially launched!

Previously, all the official OneBusAway apps (Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, Windows 8/RT) were configured to work in Puget Sound upon being downloaded from the respective app stores. We wanted to expand the OneBusAway apps to new cities (i.e., "regions") - but, this meant figuring out technical details for making this possible, and updating all the apps so they can automatically “discover” new cities.

Fast-forward to now - OneBusAway has officially launched in Tampa, and is in beta in Atlanta, including all the mobile apps! For example, a transit rider in Tampa can now simply download the OneBusAway app to their mobile device from any app store, and it will automatically work in Tampa!

While making OneBusAway available in another two cities is a great accomplishment, we’re most excited about the future - the OneBusAway apps are now easily deployable to any new city that sets up their own OneBusAway server. The new server can then be added to the OneBusAway Server Directory, and voila, transit apps for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, and Windows 8/RT in the new city! We also hope that having open-source apps available in new cities will encourage local software developers from those cities to get involved in the project, further enhancing the OneBusAway developer community.

If you have a OneBusAway server, and would like to make the apps available in your city, please reach out to us on the OneBusAway Developers group (

The multi-region initiative was a big project, and a lot of people helped make this possible - Brian Ferris created the original OneBusAway server software as well as the iPhone app. Paul Watts (Android), Rob Smith (Windows Phone), and Michael Braude (Windows 8) created apps for their respective platforms. Additional contributors to the multi-region features on iPhone include Aaron Brethorst, Chaya Hiruncharoenvate, Caitlin Bonnar, Sebastian Kie├čling, and Ben Bodenmiller. S. Morris Rose has had primary responsibility for maintaining OneBusAway in Puget Sound from summer 2011- 2013, and continues to contribute significantly. Landon Reed, Candace Brakewood, Aaron Gooze and Derek Edwards were instrumental in establishing OneBusAway Atlanta. Alan Borning, Kari Watkins, and I have led the charge deploying OBA in our respective cities, and I pitched in on the OneBusAway Android multi-region development.

We'd also like to acknowledge funding sources - the National Center for Transit Research at the Center for Urban Transportation Research at USF; National Center for Transportation Productivity and Management, GVU Center and IPAT at Georgia Tech, and the National Science Foundation.

Finally, we thank our supporters at the transit agencies that have provided data and resources, including Sound Transit, King County Metro, Pierce Transit, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

It’s been exciting to see OneBusAway moving into its next big phase of providing real-time transit apps to cities around the world!

Sean Barbeau
Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Future of OneBusAway

I wanted to update all of you OneBusAway users on the status of the system.

OneBusAway started out as a student project at the University of Washington, and progressed to become the primary topic of the PhD dissertations for Brian Ferris (Computer Science & Engineering) and Kari Watkins (Civil & Environmental Engineering).  Both Brian and Kari graduated in summer 2011; Brian headed to work for Google in Zurich, and Kari to become an assistant professor at Georgia Tech.  Since OneBusAway had become so widely used, three area agencies (King County Metro, Sound Transit, and Pierce Transit) contracted with the University of Washington to continue running OneBusAway for a year, and then again for another six months.  There are now over 100,000 users per week of the system in Puget Sound.  The contract is expiring in mid-May, and sometime around then Sound Transit will be taking over running it.  (Sound Transit already has an experimental version of OneBusAway running in parallel with the production system.)

We hope that the transition will be relatively seamless.  OneBusAway will continue to provide real-time arrival information for Metro, Sound Transit, Pierce Transit, and Intercity Transit, with schedule-only information for several others — and hopefully more in the future. Existing apps should continue to function without change.

At the same time, instances of OneBusAway have been brought up in other regions, including Atlanta, Detroit, and Tampa; the OneBusAway Enterprise system (derived from the core OneBusAway) is the basis for the BusTime system in the greater New York region.  To help support this, we are making versions of the OneBusAway apps that will work in multiple regions.  We university types will also continue doing research on providing better and additional types of transit information (such as alerts, real-time replanning, vehicle capacity information, and others), integrating incentives for transit use with OneBusAway, crowd sourcing the detection and resolution of data problems with real-time transit data, and providing tools that seek to benefit all riders, including blind and low-vision, mobility impaired, and others.

I wanted to end with thanks to a few of the many people who have helped with OneBusAway.  In alphabetical order: to Joel Bradbury and Dan Dailey, for pioneering real-time transit information in Puget Sound and continuing to provide data to OneBusAway for much of the project's lifetime; to Brian Ferris, for continuing to provide essential help even after moving to Zurich; to S. Morris Rose, software engineer in Computer Science & Engineering, for being the mainstay of our efforts to keep OneBusAway up; and finally to King County Metro, Pierce Transit, and Sound Transit for being willing to invest in keeping the system going and helping transition it to a long-term home.

sincerely, Alan Borning Professor, Department of Computer Science & Engineering