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Test your feed data using private preview

Once you’ve uploaded a valid General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) feed in the Transit Partner Dashboard, please contact your Google team and we'll activate a private preview. This preview lets you test feed scheduling and routing in a staging environment before releasing it to the public. We recommend that you invite people who are familiar with your service (such as customer support representatives) to test your preview feed.

Access your preview:

  1. Log into the Google Account associated with your Partner Content Front End. (Create a new Google account.)
  2. Visit Google Maps.
  3. Test various queries in your area (e.g. station locations, schedules, and route shapes.)

If you have multiple people testing the preview, you may want to either create a generic Gmail account (such as <> for individuals to share, or associate a Google Account with your group's internal email alias.

Test your feeds

After you've accessed the private preview staging environment, you can query the feed data directly via the Google Transit "Get Directions" user interface.

Each "Get Directions" query will generate a few trip options labeled “Google Confidential” in red next to the results. These options use only your feed data.

You might see options that don't have the "Google Confidential" label attached: these options come from active data in other feeds. Contact your Google team to request that your private data be integrated with public data so you can test various interactions between the datasets.

Every time you update your feed you’ll have to wait a few days for your preview data to refresh. Therefore, it's important that you fix as many problems as possible. 

In addition to your normal test cases, you should also check your private preview to ensure that:

  • Route shapes for the trips match well with the roads on Google Maps

  • The total time of the trips makes sense (for example, the bus doesn’t move too fast or too slowly)

  • Both weekend and weekday trips are tested, using the Leave now drop down

  • Transfers occur at appropriate places

Test different routing options

Google's trip planner is designed to show several different options for each routing request. However, it may not generate identical results to other trip planners. Google's algorithm tries to find the fastest trip to the destination, applying a slight penalty for extra transfers and walking.

If you find a request where your data shows a much better option than Google’s trip planner does, please report it to your Transit Partners support team. When reporting issues to Google, please include the link to the trip by clicking on the Menu button button at the top left corner of Google Maps, and selecting "share or embed map." Since we aren’t familiar with the local area, please include as much detailed information as possible.

Note that routing data that is already live and available to the public is displayed as the first alternative, even if one of your routes in the preview is more suitable.

Test trips with transfers

As you test your feed preview, check that the transfers between trips make sense. Try some queries that will need transfers at the main transfer points in your network and see if the results are logical.

Keep the following points in mind when testing for transfers.

  • Our routing algorithm considers transfer opportunities at the same stop and transfer opportunities that require walking from one stop to another.

  • In both cases, our algorithm estimates a minimum transfer time (including a safety buffer) between arrival and departure, and accounts for any required walking. You may need to adjust our estimates for your particular data.

Also verify transfer times in major transfer stations where several lines meet or end, looking specifically at the difference between arrival and departure times. If you notice that our estimated minimum transfer time is too low (this is rare) or too high, you can fix this by providing a transfers.txt file (as explained in the GTFS spec) that describes transfer opportunities in your network.

Test your feed with random queries

Another way to test your feed is by using the random queries found in your GTFS validation report. The validation report Queries tab includes randomly generated Google Maps directions queries between pairs of stops in your feed. Use these queries to test and verify transit routing results for your feed, augmenting your own testing.

Quality assurance review

Once you have addressed any problematic warnings and are satisfied with the preview version of your GTFS feed, please contact your Google team so that we can perform a quality assurance review of your feed. We’ll report any potential issues that we find within your feed, and work together with you to resolve these issues.

Google requires a final launch review and approval before any GTFS feed launch.

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