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How a small agency in Va. fulfills GTFS's legacy requirement with technologies

Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA), a multi-jurisdiction transportation agency in southeastern Virginia, switches to Remix to manage its GTFS data for its sprawling fixed route network.

Manyu Jiang •
The WATA team is using Remix to conduct network design and manage its GTFS reporting. Credit: Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA)

In a tourism-driven community, WATA has always faced a unique challenge: staying nimble amid constant service changes and streamlining GTFS reporting and editing processes that reflect those quick changes. Even harder, the agency needs to collect and integrate data in various formats, from multiple sources, including purchased transportation partners who need to stay compliant.

  • We’ve curated a detailed guide with everything you need to know about the government's new GTFS reporting standards, and how to get started. Read the guide.

As a forward-thinking transit leader, Ben Goodill, WATA’s director of planning and administration, has long realized the power of technology when it comes to efficient and equitable planning for their communities. When they had to deal with this GTFS data challenge, the team decided to let the tech do the work. Having used Remix Planning, Remix’s strategic planning tool, for three years, Ben’s team loved the “ease of use” of it. So when the new feature of GTFS Editor in Remix was launched, they decided to enter the early access group — turned out, it made their job even more efficient and helps WATA keep up with new GTFS guidance.

WATA is operating 12 fixed routes in James City County, the City of Williamsburg, and York County in Virginia.
"We’re excited about Remix’s GTFS Editor, and how it’s helping us streamline a lot of the data processed in our recently overhauled technologies." — Ben Goodill, WATA transit director Now, Remix has successfully helped the agency consolidate various data in one integrated general transit feed specifications file, making it compliant with FTA’s new requirements and continuing to provide the best real-time information for passengers. Meanwhile, their current Automated Passenger Counting system can still read and record that data correctly for reporting purposes. Beyond managing its own feed, WATA uses the Remix system to help push various GTFS files to a variety of different sources. Ben pointed out three features of the Remix platform that he finds particularly helpful: 
  • The new GTFS editor allows users to “build new projects and new routes”, as the agency is looking at future service redesign concepts. WATA can now take reimagined routes from the planning phase to the operational phase and apply nuanced timetable or route geometry changes occurring in different service periods. 
  • The vehicle simulation feature, which helps his team relay visually to operations what they're seeing on paper. 
  • Whether the conversation stems from planning changes or GTFS updates, Remix presentation tools help WATA communicate these thoughts to different stakeholders including board directors, county board supervisors, and public engagement. 

All of these tools help WATA streamline its tech stack for planning and feeds management — by reducing the number of transit software they’re purchasing. Getting quick consulting help has also proved crucial as Ben’s team continues to improve planning and managing their GTFS feeds.

“The customer team is open to listening to our opinions and implementing what can be added to the platform. Remix as a company wants to see us succeed, and all our experiences have been great,” Ben explained. With newly found bandwidth thanks to the tools provided by Remix GTFS, Ben is confident it can provide additional benefits to local transit partners as well.

"We plan to take the GTFS file out of Remix and basically broadcast it to several different outlets. This will provide our riders with access to accurate real-time information," said Ben. "The goal is to help facilitate transfers with other local transit agencies through these outlets. We have known what Remix is capable of for a while now and are excited to see the way these GTFS tools function. We're even more excited to see what Remix can do with GTFS moving forward."

Manyu Jiang avatar
Manyu Jiang

Via Resource Editor