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Jeppesen API could be the bee’s knees for public transport data

Ask a random app developer what kinds of open government data are most valuable and useful, and public transit data usually figures high on their list. Journey planners and bus stop alarm applications are common on the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store. But the data that makes these apps work is not always easy to obtain in a format that can be readily consumed by their apps.

Translink are on the right track in offering static public transport data for South East Queensland in a recognised public transit open data format (GTFS). What’s more, they seem to be keeping the data up-to-date; the latest update to the South East Queensland GTFS data occurred less than a week ago. Of course, what developers are really hanging out for is a real time GTFS feed, and perhaps the upcoming Translink Data Showcase may shed some light on the timeframe for that.

While the 27 MB GTFS archive for South East Queensland is precisely what many public transit apps require, some developers may be wishing for a third party public transit API that does more than serve up stop locations and route information.

Enter the Jeppesen Journey Planner (JJP) API. This API gives developers access to public transit data from regions all around the world, including South East Queensland. More than that, the API provides developers with a few interesting value-added features, including nearby stops, journey planning, trip information (a trip is one leg of a journey), and a rather funky thing called isochrones. Given a point, a date and time, a departure window and a maximum journey duration, the isochrones feature returns the transit stops that can be reached within that timeframe. The REST API returns results in XML or JSON. There is also a SOAP interface to the service.

Jeppesen, a subsidiary of Boeing that specialises in navigation products for the aviation, marine and rail industries, developed JJP in Brisbane in 2009, and is continuing to improve the API. For a taste of what the API offers, you can play with the JJP demo. Jeppesen are currently offering 1 million free requests per year (or 2,740 per day) to developers in Australia and New Zealand. This offer includes a limited number of isochrones queries.

Paul Davies, Client Manager for Public Transport Journey Planning at Jeppesen, says that JJP is hosted on Amazon Web Services, and along with other Jeppesen public transport information services, is used by transit authorities, app developers, mapping companies and startups the world over. However, the existence of the JJP API doesn’t seem to be widely known in the South East Queensland developer community at the present time.

To sign up for the special freemium plan, contact Davies directly. His contact details are available on the sidebar of the JJP trial signup form.

If you’re thinking of entering the Premier’s Awards for Open Data, the Jeppesen Journey Planner API might just give you an edge over your competitors.

About Ricky Robinson

When he's not writing for The Tech Street Journal, Ricky's working at NICTA, Australia’s ICT Centre of Excellence, where he performs a mix of industry engagement, research and, of course, software engineering. Ricky holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Queensland and spent some time in Mountain View, California, at Sun Microsystems Research Labs. Ricky's the prime instigator of TSJ.