OpenTripPlanner Nearing a Decade of Progress on Multimodal Routing

David Emory
Published in
3 min readDec 13, 2018


Recent updates to OpenTripPlanner include expanded support for shared-use mobility options, such as Portland’s Biketown bikeshare system.

It is an exciting time for the OpenTripPlanner project. OTP, which will mark its 10-year anniversary next summer, saw a long-awaited 1.0 release just over two years ago. Since then, Conveyal has been active in efforts on both sides of the Atlantic to refresh the OTP codebase and expand the software’s functionality.

In North America, Conveyal has been working in partnership with TriMet in Portland, Ore. on a major effort to enhance and modernize the OTP user experience. The project, made possible by the U.S. Federal Transit Administration’s Mobility on Demand Sandbox program, is creating a next-generation, mobile-friendly user interface for OTP based on React and Redux, as well as numerous enhancements to the OTP multimodal routing engine.

The routing work is focused on expanded support for emerging shared-use mobility services as first- and last-mile options for transit journeys. These options include both dock-based and dockless bikeshare systems (with full support for the GBFS standard now included in OTP), point-to-point carshare services such as car2go, and car-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. Look for a public launch of the new TriMet trip planner in early 2019.

The TriMet effort is one of several OTP extensions in the works. Another MOD Sandbox project, sponsored by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, is adding support for the GTFS-flex standard, which will allow OTP to support more flexible transit services (e.g. routes that can deviate from a defined path to pick up passengers). Efforts are currently underway to merge these and other OTP feature branches, with a forthcoming 1.4 release set to include both the TriMet and Vermont functionality.

Meanwhile, work has recently begun on OpenTripPlanner 2.0, which will see a complete refresh of the public transit routing component — a big change several years in the making. With the support of the whole OTP community, a team of professional developers from Norway, Finland, and the Netherlands are aiming for order-of-magnitude improvements in response time and server hardware requirements for large transit networks. These countries are already using OTP in an official capacity at national scale and are dedicated to building and maintaining a sustainable, scalable software system that will serve millions of users for years to come.

The OTP 2.0 team knows the new routing algorithms inside and out from their work on the related R4 and R5 routing projects. A prototype is already under testing and is about to become a new 2.x development branch, with a release candidate expected by the end of first quarter 2019.

OpenTripPlanner continues to be supported by a Project Leadership Committee, which was recently expanded to reflect the growing number of project stakeholders. A joint workshop for OTP and the OneBusAway project will be held in Washington, D.C. next month in conjunction with the annual TRB conference, and the 2019 OTP annual meeting is tentatively set for Oslo in the spring. Follow the OTP Developers and Users email lists for more information!