IBI Group led the design, development and implementation of the MBTA-realtime system to manage service alerts, vehicle locations and arrival predictions for all its modes, including bus, subway, light rail and commuter rail.
ClientMassachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Moving Boston in real-time
This custom-built system is one of the first of its kind to fully integrate with General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) formatted schedule information, automatically tagging all real-time data with GTFS identifiers. The system provides all real-time alerts, locations, and predictions in uniform formats across transit modes via GTFS-realtime feeds and a web services API.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)-realtime automatically generates appropriate messages for all dissemination channels including MBTA’s website, Google Maps, third party apps, RSS feed, email/SMS, and Twitter — all tagged with identifiers that allow riders to receive targeted alert messages for the specific services they’re interested in.
As part of this project, we also developed a web-based MBTA-alerts system. The intuitive platform allows simple alerts to be created in seconds with fine-grained control over what service(s) an alert applies to (down to the trip and stop level), and when it’s in effect. Over 50 MBTA operators create and manage service alerts, many of whom work concurrently. An average of 80-100,000 alert messages are sent every day to over 50,000 active subscribers via email/SMS.
IBI Group also developed the MBTA Developer Portal (realtime.mbta.com) that is used by third-party application developers to register for accounts and API-keys and access the API.
Optimizing the network
IBI Group is also helping MBTA create a new real-time performance measurement and analytics system named MBTA-performance. It records vehicle arrival and departure times; calculates headways, travel times, wait times, and schedule adherence; and derives performance metrics for on-time performance, passenger-weighted wait times, and passenger-weighted travel times in real-time. It also generates comprehensive performance measures for any specified time period, as well as any route, direction, stop or combination thereof.
The system is currently live for MBTA’s subway and light rail services, is being tested for commuter rail services, and is being expanded to cover MBTA’s bus services. MBTA and IBI Group intend to release the system as an open source project.