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About the Intercity Bus Atlas

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Intercity Bus Atlas (ICBA) is a mapping application which features scheduled bus service data.  The source data, supplied by participating North American bus service providers, are published compliant to the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), which includes operational information about stops, routes, trips, schedules, fares, and transfers.  The Bureau of Transportation Statistics collects the GTFS files from various provider websites, compiles them into a single, geospatially enabled database, and then publishes them for consumption and analysis.

Joining the individual intercity bus services into a single map provides context, perspective, and spatial awareness.  Seemingly unrelated parts, when rendered as a whole, rapidly provide a clearer understanding of the complete system. Transportation decision makers use the data and application to study the density, frequency, accessibility, and population characteristics of the nation’s intercity bus service and its users.  Ultimately, the atlas clarifies how the Intercity Bus industry benefits the Nation by connecting and enriching the lives of Americans.

2019 will see the inaugural release of the Intercity Bus Atlas and its supporting data.  Current efforts focus on introducing the concept to the Busing industry and public, establishing data-use agreements between the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and bus service providers, defining ICBA content and functionality, establishing sustainable processes for the collection, compilation, publication and archival of the data, and community outreach to garner support and user buy-in.

At its core, the Atlas provides a fundamental spatial awareness about the intercity bus industry.  It offers stop and route data which enables users to recognize service densities and patterns.  The scheduling data show how often service is available.  This location and frequency data provide transportation policy makers with the information they need to make evidenced-based decisions.