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Create a GTFS-realtime feed

A General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS)-realtime feed allows you to provide current information about your transit fleet to application developers, like Google. GTFS-realtime is designed for easy implementation, interoperability with the route and schedule information in your GTFS feed, and providing the most accurate and useful passenger information.

The GTFS-realtime data exchange format is based on Protocol Buffers, a compact and easy-to-validate binary format. This allows for much faster and more efficient feed updates. Learn more about working with Protocol Buffers.

GTFS-realtime feeds are either periodically fetched by Google (typically every 30 seconds), or programmatically pushed by a transit agency when something changes.

Types of GTFS-realtime data

GTFS-realtime allows you to provide three types of updates in continuously updated feeds:

  1. Trip updates: Delays, cancellations and changed routes

  2. Service alerts: Stop moved, unforeseen events affecting a station, route or the entire network

  3. Vehicle positions: Information about the vehicles, including location and congestion level

Google does not currently show vehicle positions on Google Maps; however, we encourage you to share this data as it’s a feature we plan to add at a future date.

Resources for creating your GTFS-realtime feed

Google’s developer site provides code and programming tips for all Realtime Transit features, as well as code samples in a variety of common programming languages.

For community input on particularly challenging issues, be sure to visit our GTFS-realtime forum.

Even if your feed is empty and does not contain real data, you can keep the integration process going as long as you have the feed structure. So, we recommend setting up a syntactically valid feed structure and then proceeding to the next step of setting up how you’ll submit your feed.

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