Transit development

It’s pretty clear, from my iPhone application at least, that I’m a fan of mass transit and interested in using data that’s already available to make it more useful. One of the hardest nuts to crack in that space is “how long will it take me to get from point A to point B”. Lots of people have been working on it for quite a while, and the solution to this problem – while “well known” from a computer science point of view – just hasn’t existed in much of a public space. Google transit was really about it there, at least until today….

The walk-score guys (really called ““) have made available a technology preview of a transit mapping system for some cities in the US (Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco) that does a great job of showing this off. The earliest version I saw of this was a London underground version that showed how far you could get in 5, 10, 15, etc. minutes from downtown London. It was a one shot – great map – showing the benefits that the underground provided if you were living around that city. Since I saw it, I’ve been wanting something like it for Seattle – of course without enough gumption to go knock it out myself.

When I first put out Seattle Bus the most common feedback I received was “Hey, how about a program to show me HOW to get from here to there…”. Well – the backend of that bad boy problem now appears to exist: GraphServer – cobbled by Brandon Martin-Anderson, and available on GitHub. Lord knows where he found a GTFS feed for Seattle’s metro system, but I’m impressed!

Published by heckj

Developer, author, and life-long student. Writes online at

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