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ArcGIS for Public Transit

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A Location Strategy

Welcome to the 2020 Esri User Conference.  First, I would like to introduce the Transit Sales Team.  Justin Kruizenga is the Transit Account Executive, and I am Jay Hagen, and I support Justin as a Solution Engineer. We are part of a broader Transportation Team and have the support of Esri Professional and Training Services, among others.  


As part of our virtual conference offering, we wanted to provide you with some resources for developing a location strategy at your public transit agency.  Location is a major part of transit operations, and ArcGIS provides solutions for meeting location challenges.  Some questions you may need to answer include:

  • Where are my buses/trains right now?  Which ones are running behind schedule?  What impacts on-time performance?
  • How can I do targeted outreach to customers and potential riders?
  • Where are my bus stops?  What amenities are at each stop?  What is the condition of those amenities?
    How do I direct and coordinate my field workforce?  Not only bus operators, but maintenance crews?
  • How can I ensure the agency meets FTA requirements for accessibility, safety, and equitable service? 


A fully developed location strategy provides tools and applications to the appropriate user to answer these and other spatially-oriented questions. In this blog post, we will provide information about configurable solution offerings, customer examples, white papers, and information about the System of Engagement, which provides the roadmap for a location strategy.  



Transit solution offerings are configurations of ArcGIS technology to meet common transit business needs.  A solution can also include training and services to stand up the technology in your organization, providing a turn-key solution. Here are some examples of solutions provided by Esri that can be leveraged by a transit agency. 


ArcGIS Solutions Transit Solutions

ArcGIS Solutions are provided as free-to-use configurable templates that solve common industry business needs.  The Solutions Team at Esri partners with ArcGIS users to identify these needs and build the application configurations. Solution templates for state and local government, emergency management, and utilities have been around for a while now, but we have recently released solutions for transit.  Not only are these templates free to ArcGIS users, they are fully supported by Esri technical support and can be quickly deployed with the Solutions Deployment Tool for ArcGIS Pro or the new ArcGIS Solutions App.


Transit Safety Management Solution (SMS)

The Transit Safety Management Solution is suite of applications that help your agency meet FTA compliance requirements for Safety Management Systems (SMS) under Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP) regulations. Meeting FTA requirements is important, but this solution goes beyond meeting compliance and provides tools to engage your entire organization in the safety process and advanced spatial analysis to help you prioritize corrective action. 


Community Engagement Solution

Communicating plans and soliciting feedback from the public can be a big challenge, especially now with COVID-19 making in-person interaction difficult (this is a virtual conference, after all).  The Community Engagement Solution helps your agency adapt to changing communication trends, increase public participation in the planning process, and build community consensus.   


ADA Stop Solution  Bus Stop Surveying

The ADA Stop Solution solves common field data collection workflow issues.  The solution allows you to coordinate bus stop collection assignments, collect and quickly assess data for ADA compliance, track progress, and perform analysis to prioritize bus stop improvements.  Because these are configurable applications, the ADA solution can be configured to meet any field data collection workflow. 


AVL/Tracking Solution

Real-time situational awareness is important when on-time performance is at stake. The AVL Solution taps into your agency's AVL to provide real-time location monitoring of your vehicles.  Knowing where vehicles are located is not useful without the context of what is happening around them, so we provide live traffic, Waze alerts, weather, traffic cameras, road construction status, and other variables to provide a comprehensive traffic management dashboard.  What's more, historical data can be stored for analysis to help you discover patterns that may effect on-time performance. An example of a real-time dashboard for Honolulu can be found here.  Keep in mind that this is using live operational data, so if you're looking at this at 3 A.M. Hawaii Time (GMT -10), you may not see much happening. 


Customer Examples

Although our Transit Team at Esri is relatively new, we do have transit agency successes to share.  

  • New York MTA uses ArcGIS to help manage over $1 trillion in assets and coordinate repair efforts on the system.
  • Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) uses a location strategy with ArcGIS to efficiently provide rail service to 450,000 daily passengers. 
  • Valley Metro in Phoenix uses the Safety Management Solution to meet FTA requirements for SMS. RTA COVID-19 Dashboard
  • Chicago's Regional Transportation Authority provides oversight for Chicagoland transit providers. As part of communicating COVID-related service challenges to the public and political stakeholders, they configured a COVID-19 dashboard with ridership and funding information.
  • The Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA) of Southwestern Pennsylvania is a coalition of public and private partners in the Pittsburgh area that facilitates an ongoing regional discussion to support the realization of additional transportation projects that will enhance regional connectivity, competitiveness and quality of life.  As part of that communication effort, they have configured over 50 (wow!) ArcGIS Story Maps to communicate various projects and plans, including this Story Map for the Imagine Transportation 2.0 vision.
  • We've curated a gallery of public-facing transit applications. Here you can browse applications that other transit agencies are using to communicate with the public.


System of Engagement

For those that want to develop a location strategy, we are commonly asked "how do we move forward?', "where do we start", or "how do we create a plan?"  To help answer those questions, we offer the System of Engagement.  The System of Engagement includes a business needs and technical track discovery.  As a result, you are provided with a plan that documents the needs that were uncovered, and the application(s) needed to move ahead. Because it is your plan, you may choose to implement the recommendations in-house at your own pace or use Esri Professional Service or an Esri technology partner to implement the plan. We have done a number of these engagements with Transit Agencies and DOTs throughout the US.  A list of some applications that came out of those transit engagements can be found here. For more information about the System of Engagement, check out the video available at the "Smart Mobility-Transit" virtual kiosk at the UC. 


The Transit Team hopes you enjoy the User Conference this year.  We would love to hear from you.  Please check out the Transportation virtual kiosk during UC or reach out directly.  You can reach us at   


For transit-related sessions and events at this year's UC, check out this flyer

On July 19, 2018, FTA published the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP) Final Rule, which requires certain operators of US public transportation systems that receive federal funds under FTA's Urbanized Area Formula Grants to develop safety plans that include the processes and procedures to implement Safety Management Systems (SMS).  Under the rule, the PTASP and SMS are to be implemented by transit agencies no later than July 20, 2020, although the FTA continues to review options to provide relief for meeting requirements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. [edit: FTA has extended the requirement deadline until December 31, 2020]FTA Components of Transit SMS


A Safety Management System is comprised of four basic components:

  1. Safety Risk Management
  2. Safety Assurance
  3. Safety Promotion
  4. Safety Management Policy


The Esri Safety Management Solution is a comprehensive, integrated solution that supports the first three components listed above (Risk Management, Assurance, Promotion). In implementing the Esri Safety Management Solution, you are supporting the fourth component, Safety Management Policy, and creating a culture of safety in your agency.


The Esri Safety Management Solution is a turn-key solution providing a suite of applications that: 

  • Meets FTA requirements for Transit SMS
  • Engages your entire organization in the safety process
  • Analyzes your data to prioritize corrective action


It includes applications for reporting hazards and events, assigning assessment and mitigation, a report generator for FTA accident event reporting, dashboards and analytical applications for monitoring and evaluating progress, and a Safety Hub site for communication to agency staff.  The video below gives a quick overview of the solution.



For more information about meeting your agency's PTASP requirement before the July deadline, contact the Esri Transit Team at


[Edit: FTA has extended the PTASP compliance deadline to December 31, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.]

Knowing where a bus is located in real-time is a valuable bit of information for a transit operations center.  Knowing where a bus is along with traffic conditions, road hazards, road construction, and current weather conditions is even more powerful.  Storing all of that information to analyze past trends to make schedule adjustments brings the process full circle.


With ArcGIS, all of this is possible.  Currently, with ArcGIS Enterprise components, you can consume AVL feeds, weather information, Waze & Esri traffic data, and many other data feeds into a real-time Operations Dashboard.  With the ArcGIS spatiotemporal big data store, you can store these events for analysis.  However, in the near future, Esri will be able to offer these capabilities as a cloud service.  That's right, no Enterprise infrastructure needed.  We're calling it ArcGIS Analytics for IoT, and I believe it will be a game changer for the transit agency that wants real-time awareness with big data capabilities, but may not have the resources to deploy Enterprise.  Check out the video below to see an example of how you might leverage your agency's AVL feed.



For more information, contact Esri's Transit Team: 

I am often asked about auto-generation of notifications when a condition is met.  Using webhooks, you can integrate Survey123 with a wide variety of web applications. 


In the video below, I cover a simple, but powerful scenario.  Bus operators are required to complete a pre-trip inspection of their vehicle.  Typically, this inspection is done on paper.  If an issue if found, the operator will need to find somebody to take quick corrective action.  Using Survey123 to complete the pre-trip inspection, you can immediately notify maintenance personnel of inspection issues, saving the agency time, and getting vehicles on the street quickly.



If you have any questions about this workflow, or have ideas for other tasks that could be tackled with webhooks, please reach out the Transit Transportation Team at

We are listening.


What's the next public transit tool you want to see in ArcGIS?  What does it do?  What problem does it solve?

With today’s release of ArcGIS Pro 2.4, you can now create an use network datasets with public transit schedule data! No separate downloads or installations are necessary. Learn more about the new functionality in the ArcGIS Pro documentation. A new tutorial can help get you started.

Public transit service area generated in ArcGIS Pro


In light of this new functionality, the Add GTFS to a Network Dataset toolbox is now officially deprecated. No further enhancements or updates will be made to that tool.  However, the tools in the Transit Analysis Tools.tbx toolbox, which was formerly part of the Add GTFS to a Network Dataset download, are not being deprecated. Instead, those have been moved to a separate downloadable toolbox. These tools have overhauled to work with network datasets created using either the old Add GTFS to a Network Dataset toolbox or the new functionality in ArcGIS Pro.


Feel free to discuss the new ArcGIS Pro functionality and post questions about it here in this GeoNet space.  However, keep in mind that you can now call Esri Support for help with any functionality in core ArcGIS Pro, and that's often a better way to get help.  For help with any downloadable toolboxes, you still need to post your questions here.


Happy analysis, everyone!

Calling all public transportation planners, analysts, data collectors, asset managers, information technology gurus, and geography ninjas. In support of Esri’s new focus on providing location intelligence for public transit, we will be hosting quarterly public transit-focused webcasts to introduce new technology, show solution configurations, and foster collaboration within our user community.

Our first webcast is scheduled for Thursday, September 20th, 1:00 PM EDT / 10:00 AM PDT, and will cover mobile data collection for ADA bus stop assessment.

The webcast will consist of a demonstration and an overview of the technology configuration used. The goal is to give you the knowledge to deploy ArcGIS in your organization in a meaningful way that solves real problems and provides value to your agency. We will keep the webcasts to an hour, so bring breakfast, a snack, or lunch (depending on your time zone) and join us. 

For more information and instructions for connecting to the webcast, visit our Story Map.

Story Map

Configuring ArcGIS for bus stop ADA compliance surveying and monitoring

Presenter: Jay Hagen, Esri Solution Engineer

Date/Time: September 20, 1:00 PM EDT / 10:00 AM PDT (1 hour)

Connect to the webcast (available when webcast beings): PC, Mac, Linux, or Android

Please note: Zoom will be used to deliver the webcast. If you have not used Zoom before, you may need to install a plug-in for your browser. Please test the connection before the webinar begins. You will have the option to use your computer for audio or you may dial in. 

ArcGIS Pro 2.2 introduces three new geoprocessing tools for working with GTFS public transit data. The new tools, in the Transit Feed (GTFS) toolset in the Conversion Tools toolbox, are: Features To GTFS Stops, GTFS Shapes To Features, and GTFS Stops To Features. These tools allow you to convert the geographic portions of a GTFS dataset into feature classes that can be visualized in a map and used as input for further analysis, and to export edits to your stops back into a GTFS stops.txt file.


The GTFS Stops To Features tool converts a GTFS stops.txt file to a feature class of points using the stop_lat and stop_lon fields to define the stop locations. The GTFS Shapes To Features tool converts a GTFS shapes.txt file to a polyline feature class showing the physical paths taken by vehicles in the public transit system. If your GTFS routes.txt file contains route_color information, the output of the GTFS Shapes To Features tool will be rendered in the color specified there. The Features To GTFS Stops tool converts a point feature class into a GTFS stops.txt file. You can use this tool in combination with the GTFS Stops To Features tool to edit and update your GTFS stops.txt file.


These tools replace the Display GTFS in ArcGIS and Edit GTFS Stop Locations downloadable sample tools.

Hello Add GTFS to a Network Dataset users (or any transit tool users). I'm seeking some information about which ArcGIS software licenses you have because this influences my design decisions for future tools. I'd very much appreciate your response to this poll:


Thank you!

Going to the Esri UC (July 9-13, 2018)?


Here is a list of sessions the might be pertinent to public transit agencies:

2018 UC Transit Sessions.pdf 


We hope to see you there!

Frequent, nearby public transit service isn’t useful if that service doesn’t take you valuable destinations, like your job, your school, the grocery store, the doctor’s office, the airport, etc. We need to understand where the transit service goes. If we can do this for an entire city, we can find out whether some areas have better access to important destinations than others, and we can use this information to understand other trends and to correct disparities.  Check out this post on the Esri blog to learn more about how to calculate transit accessibility in ArcGIS:


Mapping transit accessibility to jobs | ArcGIS Blog 

The GTFS shapes.txt file contains the actual geographic paths taken by your transit vehicles (buses, trains, etc.). The shapes.txt file is optional, but it’s important to have it so that routing apps can display the transit data nicely in a map and show an accurate representation of where your routes are.  Check out this post on the Esri blog to find out how to create one for your system:


How to make shapes.txt file for GTFS dataset with ArcGIS | ArcGIS Blog 

Not all transit access is created equal. Some areas of town enjoy more frequent transit service than others, and this may vary by time of day or day of the week. This, in turn, might impact the area’s (or point of interest’s) desirability or be correlated to the area’s socioeconomic characteristics.  Check out this post on the Esri blog to see a sample analysis and find out how you can incorporate frequency of transit service into your analysis:


transit service frequency mapping in ArcGIS | ArcGIS Blog 

Public transit (like buses and subways) connects people with their jobs, schools, healthcare, recreation, and more. However, typical fixed-route transit systems serve only the people and areas within a short distance of transit stops. Many maps inadvertently over-estimate the area and people served by the transit system.  Check out this post on the Esri blog to find out why that is and what can be done about it:


Who does my public transit system serve? | ArcGIS Blog 

Public transit (like buses and subways) is a vital service that connects people with their jobs, schools, healthcare, recreation, and more. Consequently, if you’re studying access to healthcare, assessing an economic development project, trying to choose a new site for your business, or performing any other GIS analysis in an urban environment, you can take your analysis a step further by incorporating public transit data.  Check out this post on the Esri blog for more information about tools you can use for this!


Tools for public transit analysis ArcGIS Desktop | ArcGIS Blog