GTFS Editing & Management

Since GTFS was born, Conveyal has helped agencies create, manage, and distribute public transportation data. Now, we’re making it even easier.

Landon Reed
Published in
5 min readNov 9, 2018


Author’s Note: As of May 1, 2019, Data Tools, OpenTripPlanner, and the supporting staff for these products (myself included) have moved from Conveyal to IBI Group as of May 1, 2019. You can find more information about this change in this press release. If you would like to inquire about these services, please email us at

Welcome to Conveyal Data Tools, Conveyal’s Swiss Army knife for handling even the most complex of transit data workflows. Over the past year (or so), we’ve been working on building a modern application that combines the original purposes for GTFS Data Manager and GTFS Editor into a single platform for handling the complete lifecycle of GTFS data.

Data Tools is great if you’re looking to:

  • Create, import, and edit GTFS data.
  • Validate, store, and track versions of data over time.
  • Automate deployments to OpenTripPlanner.
  • Rinse and repeat…

We’ve taken the often manual and sometimes arduous task of collecting, cleaning, and deploying transit data and distilled it into this easy-to-use application. If you’re currently working with or considering a similar data workflow, we encourage you to reach out and share your needs with us!

Quick and easy editing

Data Tools makes producing GTFS easier than ever. The editor module allows users to import existing data or start entirely from scratch. Place a few stops on the map, add them to a route, and you begin to see the shape of your route draw automatically!

Editing the alignment of a trip pattern is as simple as dragging an anchor on a map.

Reliable and scalable tools

Originally developed for managing over a hundred GTFS feeds for a statewide 511 system, Data Tools is battle tested to handle any GTFS thrown its way, no matter how riddled with errors or how large the dataset. The Data Tools validator runs an exhaustive list of checks to ensure that the data is of sufficient quality and the editor provides users a fast and simple way to fix any errors found.

Multi-jurisdictional data

Fine-grained user management system. Working across jurisdiction lines can often cause headaches over sharing and managing data. However, the fine-grained user management system in Data Tools makes it simple to give access to partner organizations to whichever subset of GTFS feeds they need read, write, or admin access to.

Multi-agency GTFS feeds. It’s a super nerdy implementation detail and we won’t bore you with the details, but the old GTFS Editor did not support GTFS feeds with more than one agency. Simply put, Data Tools does.

Email notifications. Keeping track of changes to this data is automated through agency-specific email notifications, so schedule and service changes no longer need to be communicated ad hoc. As soon as Gotham City Rapid Transit publishes new data, like a bat signal you’ll receive an email notification and can quickly pull the service into your trip planner after a quick validation check.

Looks like Commissioner Gordon has some new GTFS for me.

Summary view

GTFS feeds can be organized into collections, where users will get a summary of the most recently loaded datasets. Users can see basic stats at a glance for every feed such as the number of routes and stops, when the feed expires, and how many validation warnings were encountered when importing the feed.

A Data Tools histogram showing service hours per date (by mode) for the MARTA GTFS feed.

By diving into a feed, you can see more details on why the validation warnings were flagged and even deploy the feed to a test environment running OpenTripPlanner, allowing you to see how the feed will perform once deployed to the production journey planner. You can also drill down into detailed statistics about routes, trip patterns, and stops for any calendar date of service.

Data Tools is a powerful friend when checking GTFS feeds for accuracy and completeness. Here is a look at trips per hour histograms for selected Bronx Bus routes on October 5, 2018.

Timetable/Schedule editing

Make use of a built-in spreadsheet application that is optimized for transit schedules. For example, you can duplicate a trip and offset it in time (allowing rapid creation of trips that have the same run time) or offset a block of times. You can even copy and paste timepoints directly from spreadsheets on your local machine, which is great if this is the format available from your third-party operator.

Looks and feels remarkably familiar, with a few tricks and keyboard shortcuts up its sleeve for quick timetable editing.

Deployment to OpenTripPlanner

Data Tools enables users to easily dispatch new GTFS feeds and up-to-date OpenStreetMap data to OpenTripPlanner, one of the most popular open source platforms for multimodal journey planning.

Users can manage test and production OpenTripPlanner environments with the click of a button. Data Tools helps trip planners stay in sync with the latest transit data while bypassing the usual command-line GTFS wrangling and server management. And if an agency partner finds a problem in their feed, they can edit the feed, ensure it passes validation, and test it in the trip planner, without having to wait for staff to manually deploy data to servers.

Sample workflow for using Data Tools to test a GTFS feed in OpenTripPlanner.

This means that users editing GTFS can now iterate very quickly by editing the feed, viewing it in the trip planner, and returning to the editor to make additional changes. GTFS management and maintenance has traditionally been handled with multiple tools; now a single user can quickly create and test GTFS data.

Want to learn more?

Data Tools and its supporting staff have moved to IBI Group. Please drop us a line to hear how a subscription to our hosted Conveyal Data Tools can improve your GTFS workflow. We’d love to talk through your GTFS challenges and share a demo of how our software can help.



Landon Reed

Interested in transit, planning, maps, and the data that support them all.