UPDATE 2012-02-20: OC Transpo is now required by Transit Commission to release GPS open data by March 22, 2012 ENDUPDATE
Extensive reporting on the January 18, 2012 Transit Committee meeting in Ottawa, where the transit agency OC Transpo's update on open data was that they didn't want to release it.
OC Transpo runs an entirely bus-based transit network. The main issue at hand is getting the agency to release the realtime position data, from GPS systems already installed (or in some cases soon-to-be installed) on the buses. OC Transpo does provide standard static transit schedule data in GTFS format, but the realities of road conditions (particularly in winter) mean that the official schedule often doesn't match the actual bus arrival times.
Of particular concern were OC Transpo's assertions that it was difficult and unwise to release the realtime data, an unusual position considering that Toronto and Winnipeg already provide this type of data.
Vehicle locations and next vehicle arrival predictions are in real-time.
toronto.ca/open - Data Catalogue » TTC Real-Time Next Vehicle Arrival (NVAS)
a real-time picture of what is currently happening on the streets, with information about our city-wide service status, which individual buses are delayed and by how much, the estimated arrival times of buses at stops, and more.
Winnipeg Transit's Open Data Web Service - API Overview
- Ottawa Citizen - Transpo opposes live data release on buses - by David Reevely (@davidreevely)
- Ottawa Citizen - Who's driving this bus? Not the public, apparently, as city cuts taxpayers off from right to information - by Joanne Chianello (@jchianello)
- Metro News Ottawa - OC Transpo recommends reneging on open data promise - by Jessica Smith
- 580 CFRA News - Councillors Grill Mercier over Open Data for OC Transpo GPS Info - by Stephanie Kinsella with Kristi Soble
- Open File Ottawa - Alain Mercier faces tough questions over OC Transpo data release - by Trevor Pritchard (Disclaimer: uses substantial amount of information from my previous blog post about the TC meeting)
- CBC News - OC Transpo bus data all about the money
- YourOttawaRegion.com - OC Transpo backtracks on bus GPS release - by Laura Mueller (@LauraEMueller)
It's important to understand the OC Transpo is... and isn't part of the city (that's part of what this battle is about). The city itself has made great strides with open data, the short URL for the initiative is
and there is a dedicated open data lead on staff, Rob Giggey (@rob_giggey).
The council also has two strong defenders of the city's open data policy in Councillors Tim Tierney (@TimTierney) and Marianne Wilkinson (@Marianne4Kanata). They really understand that open data brings new ways of working and new opportunities.
If you're someone who is interested in this data (as a citizen and/or a developer) you can help by letting Councillors Tierney and Wilkinson know of your support (as well as telling Mayor Jim Watson @JimWatsonOttawa and your local councillor) and by letting Open Data Ottawa know how you would like to use the data and what we could do to help. For what it's worth, you could also tell OC Transpo (@OC_Transpo) itself. Good hashtags to use are #octranspo and #opendata
Although I've listed lots of Twitter contact IDs, you can of course use all the regular postal mail, email, telephone, and Facebook channels to let the city and OC Transpo know what you think.
January 18, 2012 OC Transpo would rather have ads than open data