Victory Lap for TriMet

I like to think of myself as sort of the “loyal opposition” for TriMet – in agreement with their mission and supportive of their efforts in general, but pushing them to do a better job, and not afraid to point it out when I think they’ve made a mistake.

But today I’m an unabashed fan. TriMet has just recently published a new list of all the 3rd party applications that use their open data on schedules and arrivals. They’ve gotten some good notices on the Mercury and Oregonian blogs.

TriMet is the national leader among transit agencies on opening up their data, and this was reflected by the fact that they were the prototype implementation of Google Transit.

I’m happy to have played a small part in suggesting to senior management a few years ago that they open up their data – and demoed to them a web app I had written for my Treo by screen-scraping their Transit Tracker. This eventually became Transit Surfer, using first TriMet’s SOAP API, then later their REST API.

Clearly there was already motion (and a great technical staff) inside TriMet in the direction of openness, but senior management embraced the idea of leveraging 3rd party developers by making the data open. Many transit agencies charge for this data (much as Metro does for it’s GIS data, cough, cough).

So congratulations to TriMet for being an early adopter of the open data mindset, and well-deserved kudos on the results!

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