Open Transit Data: New Yorkers Left Out in the Cold

Give software developers open transit data, and they'll create applications that make riding easier and more convenient, says Ben Fried. But straphangers in the nation's largest transit market, New York, are still waiting for the MTA to open up.

"If you live in Portland, there are dozens of mobile applications that help fill gaps in transit information. You can check your phone to see when the next bus is supposed to come. You can plan a trip from one unfamiliar part of town to another. You can even have your mobile device buzz if you fall asleep before reaching your destination. For the basic stuff, there's no iPhone necessary (although that certainly helps for information luxuries). Anyone who has a plain old cell phone with text messaging can ride the train or the bus with greater ease thanks to these apps."

"New Yorkers are still waiting for the MTA to join the club. Simply put, the MTA makes it difficult to create applications using its data, even for a behemoth like Google with enormous reach."

Full Story: The Case for Open MTA Data: Transparency, Savings, and Easier Riding
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Michael Rodriguez's picture

Openness: value-added at little cost

MTA needs to join the openness club simply to make transit easier for their users. Their "quality control" argument is debunked by the fact that cities like Portland and San Fransisco have open transit information and have not faced quality issues in the applications that users/riders enjoy. It also reeks of an "ecosystem" mentality that simply does not seem appropriate for a government agency.

I get that the MTA wants to squeeze every dollar it can with licensing fees and royalties. But the opportunity cost is the value-added products developers produce if they do not have to pay the fee. In the end, the MTA is the beneficiary of riders with better information and a wealth of applications at their disposal. The translation: more riders and a better ridership experience.

This is another example of another agency just not "getting" the internet, developers, and costumers.

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