Attention Developers. Upgrade to GTFS-Realtime API
*Latest Updates – on 8th March 2023
App developers with a special interest in real-time public transport information should note that the National Transport Authority (NTA) will replace the current GTFS-Realtime update API with an upgraded set of APIs shortly. These new APIs will be fully integrated with our new Travel Information platform.
As a subscriber to the NTA API portal, you will have received an e-mail informing you that the URLs are to be published and how to transform your processes to make use of the new APIs.
There will be a transition period of 4 to 6 weeks after the launch where both the current real time API and the new set of APIs will be available for use. This will provide you an opportunity to test your processes against the new real time update API and gain a good level of assurance that all is in order before moving across.
It is important that the GTFS static schedule is consistent with the real time API being used. The upgraded real time API should only be used with the upgraded GTFS static schedule. Similarly, the current real time API should only be used with the current GTFS static schedule. The new static schedule will be made available shortly at the Public Transport open data page. For the transition period, the current and new static schedules will both be available at the open data page. The bullet point below “Matching static content to the real time API” provides a more detailed explanation.
When the transition period expires, the current real time update API will be removed and no longer function. It is important that you have migrated to the new real time update API at this stage. An e‑mail reminder will be sent 2 weeks before transition end.
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 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 for bus, rail and Luas, there will be a new Vehicle Location API that provides information on factors such as bus locations.
- Static GTFS schedules for both the current API and the new replacement APIs will be available for download from the Public Transport open data page.
- Interface details for these new APIs will be available at the NTA Real Time Developer portal
- 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 apply process logic based on these key values 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.
- Matching static content to the real time API – Given the ID constraints described in the previous bullet, 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. There is also 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. This issue will arise where last week’s schedule has been replaced by a newer version.
- Static schedule data updates may occur daily. Currently, schedule updates do not happen that often. Given that update frequency is unpredictable at present, the impact is likely to be low. Nonetheless, developers need to confirm that they have a process in place to handle this.
These are key dates to bear in mind as part of the changeover to the new real time update APIs.
- Coming soon- Publication of URLs for the new/updated travel update APIs to the NTA API Developer portal
- 6 weeks after launch – transition period ends – the replaced real time update API will be removed from the portal. It is important that you have amended your processes to use the new API endpoint URL at this stage.
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 nor will your subscription key change.
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/v2
Further background detail on the GTFS-R API can be found at the following links:
Download PDF Below – explaining in greater detail what developers should watch out for in this upgrade.