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OSSTIP/WP2- Transport Informatics tools review

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Revision as of 02:27, 23 October 2013 by PatSunter (talk | Contributions) (→‎WP Essentials: - bullet point form.)
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WP Essentials

This is a Work Package as part of the OSSTIP project.


  • Initial sample GTFS and other data from OSSTIP/WP1
  • Open source package codes.


  • Short evaluation report on each tool, stating pros and cons,
  • saved example code and datasets in project repository/dropbox.

Estimated Time: Small-medium

Status:: Mostly Complete (as at 23/10/2013 - requires filling out a bit more detail on several of the sections below.)

Requirements Summary

The goal of this WP is to download and briefly evaluate all of the key candidate software packages identified for potential use as the core basis for the rest of the project and the OSSTIP tool.

At the outset, these are expected to be, as per the Appropedia page Open Source Transport Informatics tools:

Primary criteria for evaluation and selection will be:

  • The quality and usefulness of visual display capabilities in assessing and communicating transport network coverage and usefulness;
  • Accuracy of the results generated – and whether they include walking and cycling connections;
  • Speed of the results generated;
  • How easy the tool is to use, including data formats used, and preparation requirements, and documentation availability;
  • The dependencies it has on other software that needs to be installed first or utilised;
  • How challenging it would be to utilise the tool as part of an interactive web-based display of a proposed transport network & schedule (See OSSTIP/WPBZE3);
  • How well-designed and interoperable the tool is to integrate into a larger transport analysis and modelling system (See BZE later Work Packages);
  • Level of community activity and support for the code (e.g. on mailing lists), future plans, and institutional support.

Each package should be downloaded, briefly assessed on some sample data, and the results saved in a project repository (e.g. either Github or Dropbox).


See Open Source Transport Informatics tools for links to surveyed list of main tools.

Only some of them will be covered in the table below. The Open Source Accessibility Toolkit was added to the list, because of its possible use as supporting mode-choice comparison work in trip assignment in an origin-destination matrix via different modes.

Please note: table initially completed July 2013. It may not be maintained afterwards, so please check the edit dates/change log of this page to be sure.

Relevant project blog posts:


General page: OpenTripPlanner

Capabilities: Good

  • Trip-based routing based on intermodal network, which returns both trip results, and an integrated map display of the results (Example);
  • Calculation of various "Analyst" features, including:
    • Calculating travel-time Isochrones from a location as a web-service, returning resulting polygons;
    • Displaying these as a layer of map raster tiles (Example);

Quality and usefulness of visual display: Med-Good

Dependencies on other software: Med

OpenTripPlanner uses a fairly standard set of GIS tools:-

  • PostgreSQL database
  • GeoServer for web-based display of GIS datasets.

It also needs a web-server - for a basic test installation, it includes a cut-down webserver as part of the distribution that can be launched from the command line.

For any more advanced work though, you'll need to use Apache Tomcat web-server, which does take a reasonable amount of installation effort.

Also, for either modifying the code, or recommended to run some of the more advanced batch analyst functions :- you'll need to install a development environment such as Eclipse, and various Java build tools such as Maven. See https://github.com/openplans/OpenTripPlanner/wiki/Install and https://github.com/openplans/OpenTripPlanner/wiki/GettingStartedEclipse.

Ease of installation, use (inc documentation): Med

OTP is cross-platform, includes some reasonable install instructions, and includes a pre-packaged binary that allows fairly quick testing.

However, to do any of the sample test runs currently generally requires downloading several hundred MB of data.

There doesn't yet seem to be a formal manual, but there is quite good documentation on the project Wiki (https://github.com/openplans/OpenTripPlanner/wiki/Tutorials), including a 2 minute intro and 5 minute intro to getting started with some pre-packaged versions. E.g. on my Mac Os X system, I was able to get an OTP server up and running, and able to plot routes using some GTFS data, within a day (See OSSTIP/Project blog#2013-07-18 :- Working with GTFS transport schedules, and promising start with OpenTripPlanner's capabilities.

Accuracy of results: Good

Results include actually walking (or cycling, your choice) to train/tram stops on the street network (Provided by OpenStreetMap data).

Some preliminary testing of trip-routing results against the [PTV Journey Planner] show a reasonable correlation, though OTP does choose different routes sometimes that seem a little counter-intuitive (e.g. doesn't always choose to use City Loop rail stations, when I thought it would have).

I'd like to test this again once we do a bit more debugging work on some issues with the bus network's GTFS feed.

speed & scalability: Med-Good

Potential for use in web-based interactive display: V Good

TODO: document OTP Analyst capacities.

Interoperability potential into larger transport modelling work: Good

See some example work in Open Source Accessibility Toolkit.

Level of community activity and support: Good

Previously OTP was institutionally based and supported at http://www.openplans.org. Seems recently planned future institutional support as part of commercial routing activities.


General page: Graphserver


General page: Mapnificent


General page: Mapumental (Open Source version)

Open Source Accessibility Toolkit (OSAT)

General page: Open Source Accessibility Toolkit (not to be confused with the Open Source Appropriate Technology page/concept).

Overall Recommendation

As at July 2013, I suggest the OpenTripPlanner tool be the focus of further effort. This is because of the combination of:

  • Seemingly most active development community, ever since Graphserver code was ported across to it by the Graphserver founder. This includes a few other developers in Melbourne who presented on it at a recent Melb Open GIS meetup;
  • Cross-platform, and can be set up and got up and going within a day (for someone at least a bit familiar with XML files);
  • Documentation isn't perfect, but has quite a large Wiki, and is notably better than several other tools, e.g. Graphserver;
  • Performance is at least reasonable:- its in use in large-scale route planning projects such as a Netherlands-wide cycle trip planner, and there are innovations at work to improve this (see LargeGraphs page on OTP Wiki and the actual implementation is http://opentripplanner.nl/index.html/);
  • The OpenTripPlanner Analyst already has a pretty good Travel Time Maps visualisation capability built in, that could be extended. While not as "pretty" as Mapumental's, having this capability in an active codebase is potentially a big time-saver.

So, I User:PatSunter recommend focus on OTP for now, unless major unexpected issues come up in the next few WPs, in which Graphserver could be a fallback.

As the project progresses to later stages, we can also assess whether OTP will be the best basis for a live web-server to communicate the benefits of the new network interactively, or Mapnificent. The benefit of Mapnificent is it *might* be faster, but OTP is more accurate based on the actual timetables.

Similarly, we should also investigate whether Open Source Accessibility Toolkit should be used for routing comparison, or else develop this directly as an OTP extension (this might require a bit more research in that WP).