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Frequently Asked Questions

Thursday, June 1, 2023
    • Why was the NTM created?
      Almost all of the largest transit agencies already collect and make GTFS data available—either publicly through their website or directly to private companies. Despite the increasing use of GTFS data, there was no national transit map that transit agencies, advocates, and researchers could use to assess the extent of the United States transit system.
    • When was the NTM established?
      In March 2016, the U.S. Transportation Secretary invited transit agencies to participate in the NTM. The first version of the NTM was released in September 2016.
    • How often is NTM updated?
      As the NTM program matures, data will be released quarterly on NTAD,
    • How do I download NTM data?
      NTM data is available for download on NTAD in multiple file formats.
    • How should I use NTM data?
      NTM combines voluntarily provided GTFS data for both fixed-guideway and fixed-route transit service. It is a NGDA within NTAD that supports research and analysis on the benefits of transit. It is not intended for navigation or real-time trip planning or to replace existing customer services available through transit agency websites and commercial trip planning service providers.
    • What agencies are participating in NTM?
      NTM maintains a Participating Agencies dataset with additional data inclusion details. NTM participating agencies are also listed in the NTAD metadata for each dataset.
    • How do I register for NTM?
      Transit agencies register to participate in NTM by logging into FACES. BTS provides step-by-step instructions on how to participate and how to register.
    • What other USDOT data can I use to conduct transit research?
      FTA's NTD is a longitudinal survey of reports from transit agencies all over the country. Transit agencies log into FACES with their NTD ID to file their reports. Researchers may find the NTD Agency Information and Agency Mode Service Files useful in conjunction with the NTM data. The NTD provides a glossary of terms.
    • Will DOT fund GTFS conversion or is it the transit agency’s responsibility?
      Participation in the NTM is voluntary. If an agency does not already publish a GTFS feed, there is no requirement to start. Agencies wishing to develop GTFS feeds may be eligible for reimbursement under the Metropolitan Planning Program and the State Planning and Research Program, jointly administered by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.
    • Does the USDOT have a list of vendors that could create GTFS feeds?
      USDOT does not offer a list of vendors. However, there are a number of resources available on the internet for transit agencies who wish to develop GTFS feeds or other machine readable schedule feeds. 
    • How can I ask additional questions or connect with BTS?

    Frequently Used Terms

    • BTS: The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), part of the USDOT, is the preeminent source of statistics on commercial aviation, multimodal freight activity, and transportation economics, and provides context to decision makers and the public for understanding statistics on transportation. It is one of more than a dozen principal federal statistical agencies. 
    • CC-BY-3.0: To allow the use of their data, transit agencies grant the USDOT a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States (CC-BY-3.0) license. The license gives USDOT the right to access and use the agency's transit data periodically. 
    • FACES: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) maintains several web-based software systems that reside on the same FTA platform which is accessed via the Federal Access Control and Entry System (FACES) website. The systems on this FTA platform include the National Transit Database (NTD). Transit agencies can register for the NTM by logging into FACES.
    • FTA: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems, including buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, trolleys and ferries. 
    • GTFS: General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) defines how to store transit data about stops, routes, and schedules. There are two versions of GTFS: (1) static, and (2) real-time. NTM uses static GTFS data to support for the purpose of supporting research and analysis. Real-time GTFS requires an Automatic Vehicle Location system to allow public transportation agencies to provide real-time updates about their fleet. During NTM registration, transit agencies provide a uniform resource locator (URL) to their existing static GTFS feed. 
    • NGDA: A National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDA) is defined as a geospatial dataset that has been designated by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Steering Committee and meets at least one of the following criteria: supports mission goals of multiple federal agencies, statutorily mandated, supports Presidential priorities as expressed by Executive Order, or by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Together, these NGDA Datasets comprise the A-16 NGDA Portfolio.
    • NTAD: The National Transportation Atlas Database (NTAD), published by BTS, is a set of nationwide geographic databases of transportation facilities, transportation networks, and associated infrastructure. NTM data is available for download from NTAD. 
    • NTD: The National Transit Database (NTD) is the Nation’s primary source for information and statistics on the transit systems of the United States. 
    • NTD ID: The NTD Identification Number (NTD ID) is a unique FTA-assigned number (NTD ID) that each transit agency must have before filing a report.
    • NTM: The National Transit Map (NTM), distributed by BTS, is an ongoing effort to establish nationwide catalog of fixed-guideway and fixed-route transit service in America that is gleaned from publicly available information. It was initiated in 2016 and is a NGDA Dataset within NTAD that supports research and analysis on the benefits of transit.
    • USDOT: The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) oversees and administers programs, policies, and regulations to keep the traveling public safe, secure, and mobile while ensuring that our transportation system contributes to the nation’s economic growth.