July 4, 2023 4:15 pm

Recap: MobilityData Working Meeting – GTFS-Flex Service Discovery

MobilityData hosted a public online discussion on GTFS-Flex Service Discovery on June 28th, 2023.

The discussion was presented by two MobilityData team members: Elias Gino Cripotos, Community Manager for Transit Specifications, and Tzu-Jen Chan, Data Analyst for Transit Specifications.

If you missed this discussion, you can check the meeting minutes, meeting Miro board, and GTFS-Flex adoption tracker.

We would like to thank you for your valuable engagement in the first working meeting hosted by MobilityData on June 28, 2023. The purpose of the meeting was to solidify the momentum surrounding the proposed extension. We were thrilled to have 22 participants from North America, Europe, and Oceania, representing various stakeholders involved in GTFS: consumers, vendors, transit agencies, and advocates for small transit agencies.

In the initial 20 minutes, MobilityData acknowledged the significant efforts that have been put into GTFS-Flex over the past decade, highlighting its impressive development background. This understanding served as the foundation for the constructive discussions that followed.

Throughout the 50-minute guided discussion, we witnessed a high level of interest in broadening the scope of the proposed extension. Many participants expressed their desire for a comprehensive approach rather than an incremental one, as originally proposed in Service Discovery. Your collective insights and suggestions regarding the steps taken in the past have been instrumental in shaping our understanding and considerations moving forward.

Here are the key takeaways that emerged from the discussion:

1. There was an agreement among the group community to pursue an iteration that covers all fields currently produced and consumed (Option C+). This reflects the shared vision for a robust and inclusive extension. 

According to the current adoption tracker, the iteration should support the use cases mentioned in the meeting. In addition to presenting flex services on trip planners, the iteration should also include the following information (please refer to all fields with status “in discussion” in the adoption tracker)

  • Complete booking window information, including:

    (1) Up to prior day(s) booking – earliest and/or latest available booking day and time
    (2) Same-day booking with advance notice – minimum advance notice required (in minutes)
    (3) Real-time booking

  • Message, phone number, URL
  • Name and description of the area

2. To maintain the current momentum, it was suggested that we rigorously remove any questions about rare use cases from the scope of the proposal. By doing so, we can ensure that future meetings remain focused on finalizing the majority of the proposal, thereby facilitating a more efficient approach to our working sessions.

3. Recognizing that GTFS-Flex producers might not possess the same technical capabilities as larger GTFS producers. It was emphasized that providing a solid extension encompassing most use cases is crucial. This consideration highlights our commitment to inclusivity and accessibility for all stakeholders.

4. Given the extensive history surrounding the development of Flex, it was agreed that the incremental model of Fares v2 might not be applicable. This understanding allows us to explore alternative approaches that align more effectively with the current needs and objectives of GTFS-Flex.

As facilitators and advocates of the proposal, MobilityData is committed to taking our own advice and keeping an open mind to the inputs of the community. We appreciate the insights and recommendations you have provided, which have led us to reconsider and modify our approach accordingly.

Looking ahead, we would like to outline the next steps that were collectively identified during the meeting:

1. MobilityData will analyze the takeaways from the discussion and publish a Pull Request that covers all fields currently produced and consumed (Option C+). 

2. MobilityData will organize a dedicated technical working meeting that focuses on reviewing the contents of the Pull Request. 

3. We kindly request the First Adopters to publicly announce their interest in supporting the GTFS-Flex extension at the next technical meeting.

4. Following the announcement of First Adopters, we will initiate the implementation phase.

5. A voting phase will be organized to enable all stakeholders to express their opinions and preferences. 

6. If we achieve consensus, we can adopt the spec and update the validator. 

Once again, we want to express our appreciation for your vital engagement, valuable contributions, and support during the working meeting. Your insights and perspectives have been instrumental in shaping the future direction of the GTFS-Flex extension. We eagerly anticipate continued collaboration and look forward to our future interactions.
Contact us at specification@mobilitydata.org for the meeting recording.