The Institute of Transportation Engineers – Georgia Tech Student Chapter

When’s the next MARTA bus? …


Well… it’s finally here! MARTA has just launched a website for real-time bus location and arrival/departure predictions. This is huge news for the traveling public. Now, if buses are running early or late, riders can see beforehand and adjust accordingly so they don’t miss the bus or wait for a late one.

The app itself is a little rough around the edges, but it’s promising to see that the technology to collect this data is out there. Unfortunately, only this website has access to the data driving it which means that others cannot piggy back off the technology to innovate new tools. I am personally working with several group members on a project that seeks to open transit route and schedule data for the Atlanta region. The most practical and relevant development would be transit trip planners that work across jurisdictional boundaries. Keep an eye here for progress updates since we think that it can be a real game-changer for transit in Atlanta.

Author: James Wong

James is the President of ITE @ GT and a Graduate Research Assistant at Georgia Tech in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is pursuing his Master's degree now after two years working with Kittelson & Associates, a transportation planning and engineering firm. During his time with KAI, James took a one-year hiatus to work with a similar firm in South Africa, ITS Engineers, providing transportation analyst support. Now back in academia, James hopes to pursue his interests in transit and ITS technologies under the premise that better information and competitive features on transit will make it more marketable as a primary mode of transportation.


  1. Woohoo! This is huge. Atlanta was really behind the times in this area.

  2. Can somebody hack the website? It’s a pretty straightforward thing to take published information and reformat it into a web app.

    • I’m sure its certainly possible, but not worth while. The whole concept of open data relies on people responding to a transparent agency that is trying to collaborate with them to help customers. Agencies should try to lower the barrier to entry as much as possible and create the most standardized data available so no developer ever has to scrape or hack a website.

      An example is the folks at HopStop – they can use their app in dozens of agencies around the country, those who have published their data (in what’s called GTFS). For the developer of that universal app, there’s no good reason to scrape MARTA’s website when they know MARTA has this data and could feasibly give it out in the right format for free. With such a pain for developers to get to this data by hacking, there are very few applications that run based on MARTA online schedules. I venture to say that if the data were published in an open standard, we would see iPhone, Android and web-based apps crop up within a matter of weeks.

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