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Transit.wiki 10th anniversary

written by andy on

About 10 years ago, Transit Unlimited Wiki was born.

In 2008:

While the Bay Area has many transportation alternatives, it is often hard to figure out what options there are and how to use them. It can be especially confusing for new and infrequent riders and visitors on vacation or business. The goal of this project is to fill in the gaps left by the official transit web sites and online transit trip planners with the information and knowledge experienced riders have picked up along the way.

After 10 years, things have changed quite a bit.

  1. Trip planning and mapping technologies have advanced. Transit schedules now have a industry standard format.
  2. More transit agencies offer real time information. We support real time departure information on the wiki for agencies that offer open API access.
  3. We expanded beyond the Bay Area. In 2009 we expand coverage in Sacramento and Southern California. We are covering all the way to Chicago.
  4. Mobile devices are common today. We have a mobile version of the wiki.
  5. Transit agencies are using social media for service alerts and announcements. We integrate and embed these information whenever available to provide a one-stop shop.
  6. Complementary services like bike sharing is available in more locations.
  7. Agencies and cities are testing app-enabled ride services.
  8. Cities are building rail-like bus rapid transit lines with dedicated facilities.
  9. Saw significant reduction on transit due to the Great Recession, and seeing recovery in service as the economy improves.

We still have a lot more work to do. Eventually I want to see the wiki to cover coast to coast, from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. Besides the major cities, there’s transit in the rural areas (intercity and dial-a-ride) throughout the country.

I believe that this is the only wiki dedicated to transit service information available today. There were attempts for wikis to provide transit information. There are also wikis today that cover transit agencies in different aspects (professional planners, fleet details). I think part of this wiki’s success is the use of the Semantic MediaWiki extension, which allows the information to be entered once on a page and then queried many times in other pages. That’s how we could provide the same level of detail for transit service on some strip mall in a city, and provide interactive maps for a bus route, a region, a city, or a county. Our strength is still our agency-independence format and coverage, as well as a human touch beyond machine readable information formats like GTFS.

One of the most popular wikis for transit information is Wikipedia. The help of enthusiastic editors can allow transit information to be available in high details. However because of Wikipedia’s broad and general mission, as well as standard for notability and 3rd party reference, such information and level of detail may not always be appreciated. I believe that Transit.wiki and Wikipedia have separate roles even covering the same transit agency, route, or infrastructure. Transit.wiki¬†focuses on being a user guide and directory, and Wikipedia focuses on background, history, and controversies.


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