Attention Developers. Upgrade to GTFS-Realtime API

App developers with a special interest in real-time public transport information should note that the National Transport Authority (NTA) plans to replace the current GTFS-Realtime API with an updated version that will be fully integrated with our new Travel Information platform.

In the next 2 weeks (early July 2022), URLs will be published for the new upgraded real time update API as well as the 2 new open APIs. This will be an opportunity to test your processes against these new APIs and gain a good level of assurance that all is in order. Please note that these URLs are for a test environment and reliability and accuracy cannot be 100% guaranteed. It is important that you continue to point your live processes to the existing Live API during this time.

As a subscriber to the NTA API portal, you will receive an e-mail informing you when the UAT URLs are published.

At the end of August 2022, when UAT completes successfully, there will be a transition from the current real time API to the new upgraded version. For technical reasons, the changeover will be immediate. There will be no interim where both versions of the API are available.. For this reason, it is important that you trial and become familiar with how your process uses the upgraded real time API.

A second e mail notification will be sent at least 2 weeks before this changeover to give notice of the pending switch.

The new Travel Information platform

This upgrade reflects the NTA’s commitment to providing open data.  The new Travel Information platform will provide more accurate and timely information across a greater range of travel services.

GTFS-R

GTFS-R is a data feed specification that allows the NTA to provide real-time public transport updates to application developers. It is an extension to GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification), an open data format for public transportation schedules and associated geographic information.

GTFS-R was designed with the objectives of ease of implementation and good GTFS interoperability to provide a clear focus on passenger information.

The main points of change are:

  • The current GTFS-R API contains real-time updates for services provided by Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, and Go-Ahead Ireland. The new GTFS-R API will extend this service to also provide real time Luas and Iarnród Éireann service updates.
  • The end point URL for real time updates will change from https://api.nationaltransport.ie/gtfsr/v1 to https://api.nationaltransport.ie/gtfsr/v2/TripUpdates
  • In addition to the real time update API, there will be 2 new APIs made available:
    1. Vehicle location information – covers bus or train location and congestion levels
    2. Static GTFS schedules – it will still be possible to download static schedules from the Public Transport open data page. This alternative to receive static information via an API call will support greater automation
  • Interface details for these new APIs are available at the NTA Real Time Developer portal
  • Static schedule data updates may be updated on a daily basis.  Currently, updates are not as frequent as daily. Given that update occurrence is unpredictable at present, the impact will be low.  Nonetheless, developers need to confirm that they have a process in place to handle this
  • There will be some change to the content and structure of the information provided to API calls. These will be minor in nature but do need consideration. The keys for travel entities Agency, Route, Trip and Stops will all be numbers auto generated internally.  Their only purpose is to join related instances across the various object tables.  Any process that attempts to derive process logic based on the values of these keys will be unreliable and should be avoided.
  • Further as these keys are internal, it is possible that the value for a particular instance may not apply across generations of real time data. No attempt should be made to identify individual instances of an object based on an ID value as this may change from one period to the next.
  • Given these ID constraints, real time API data should be matched only against static schedule information for the matching period and version. For example, an attempt to compare trip real time data generated from the new real time API against a static schedule provided by the old travel information system will not succeed.  Similarly, there is no guarantee that comparison of real time stop data for today against static schedule data for last week will succeed even if both are generated by the new travel information system.

Key Dates

These are key dates to bear in mind as part of the changeover to the new real time updates API:

  • By start July (exact date tbc): Publication of URLs for UAT version of the new/updated travel update APIs.
    Once published, they will be immediately available for testing.
  • End August/start September (exact date tbc): Current real time update API replaced by new updated real time API in the live API portal environment. The 2 new APIs will be made available at the same time.

Access requirements for existing API developers will not be affected and will persist in API Management at the Application Gateway.  There is no need to open a new subscription to the new APIs.

Links and Details

New GTFS-R API  registrations can be completed at the NTA API Developer portal

The NTA’s GTFS-R production URL is https://gtfsr.transportforireland.ie/v1

Further background detail on the GTFS-R API can be found at the following links: