State Offers MBTA Transit Data To Software Developers

Correction appended — It may not be long before you know exactly where your MBTA train is — and when it will get to your stop.

Massachusetts is now providing software developers with the data needed to develop third-party iPhone applications and other software incorporating MBTA subway, bus, train and regional transit information.

The data includes transportation scheduling and geographic information, which could pinpoint train and bus locations and arrival times.

Colin Durrant, a spokesman for the Massachusetts executive office of transportation, said the state hopes to eventually offer that data in real-time.

“Say there’s a BU student who’s waiting out in the freezing cold,” said software developer Luke Bornheimer. “They’re waiting for a train outside. Instead, they’d know when the train’s coming and they can wait inside until it’s a block or two away.”

The state’s decision to offer transit data builds on an earlier initiative, in which Massachusetts helped Google Maps incorporate the same information into driving and walking directions requested by its users.

Bornheimer started a Facebook group that called for the MBTA to form a partnership with Google. Nearly 1,500 people joined the group.

The MBTA becomes the third-largest transit agency in the country to make such data public in a format converted to the industry-standard Google Transit Feed Specification.

Metro agencies in Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Portland, Ore., already offer similar services.

Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that Massachusetts is providing real-time transit data. In fact, it is not yet possible to pinpoint the exact location of an MBTA vehicle.

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