viii. Portland TriMet, transportation planner, Oregon, US

Interaction type

Public → Government → Public

Trigger Event

Need for a new generation of data that traditional proprietary data sets cannot provide.


Transportation data


Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet)


OSM and Public transportation authorities

Data sets in use

The streets and trails are from OpenStreetMap. Transit routes and schedules come from TriMet. Elevation data come from United States Geological Survey 


The project use OSM data to provide intelligent services to the public and at the same time invests time and effort to the OSM improvement


Improved services to the public


Improve the provided public transportation services

Side effects

Development of an ecosystem of transportation-applications

Source(s) / Contact Point ;; Bibiana McHugh, McHughB [at] trimet [dot] org


The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) serves a population of approximately 1.5 million in the 533 square miles of the urban portion of the three-county Portland, metropolitan area.  It provides a full range of services through five light rail lines (MAX), 77 bus routes and a commuter rail line (WES).

In an effort to keep the services provided to the public at the highest possible level, TriMet is incorporating a range of services such as multimodal trip planning and service change analysis. TriMet needed a new generation of data that traditional proprietary data sets cannot provide. To solve this problem, TriMet turned to the use of OSM. As well as traditional road network data sets, OSM also provides data about pedestrian paths and bicycle routes that can enable TriMet to provide multimodal services to the citizens of Portland. Moreover, proprietary routing data sets are costly and do not come with near real-time updates. In this context, OSM data sets are now used by all internal systems and applications that need routing data. Also, TriMet officials have realized the value of OSM data and have committed to contribute to OSM with a full-time employee. Moreover, city officials realized that by releasing governmental data to the public, the OSM community will contribute to data improvement and will enable TriMet to provide better services to the public.

On October 15, 2011, TriMet formally launched the Portland Regional Trip Planner (RTP). RTP uses OpenTripPlanner (OTP), an open source, multi-modal trip planner funded by the Metro 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 Regional Travel Options (RTO) Grants. OTP replaced TriMet’s existing proprietary transit trip planner (PTTP). OpenTripPlanner (OTP) is an Open Source, Multi-Modal Trip Planning System collaboratively developed by a team of developers from across the world and coordinated by OpenPlans and TriMet.

OpenStreetMap is full of bus stops, train stations, ferry routes, and even funicular railways, contributed by mappers around the world. Many transit agencies also share their networks and schedules as public data sets, using the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format, created by Portland TriMet and Google. Combining the geographic information of OSM and the temporal information of GTFS feeds opens many of possibilities–but unfortunately it’s an often frustrating slog through messy data and incomplete tooling.

OpenStreetMap data was improved for OTP. TriMet led the effort to bring OSM to a high level of accuracy for their area of interest and is the first government agency in the US to adopt OSM and commit to continued improvement of the map data as the city changes or new data elements are tracked. This upkeep from TriMet augments the efforts of the community of users as large and other public jurisdictions in the seven country area.

More recently, TriMet was awarded a $678,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration through their Mobility on Demand (MOD Sandbox Program. The initiative envisions a multimodal, integrated, automated, accessible and connected transportation system in which personalized mobility is a key feature. With the support of this grant, TriMet is working with the OSM community and other local jurisdictions to improve OSM data, in particular sidewalks, to support the next generation of trip planning.  The OpenTripPlanner features are being expanded to include the integration of shared-use mobility options with transit.  TriMet’s Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox grant will enable the agency and its partners to extend the OpenTripPlanner (OTP) platform, which was first released by TriMet in 2009 and has ever since enjoyed widespread adoption.

Moreover, the TriMet’s OpenTripPlanner Shared-Use Mobility (OTP SUM) project will create a complete open platform for the integration of transit and shared‐use mobility options. With an improved address locator, Mapzen’s Pelias geocoder, the open data, software and user interfaces, responsive on both web and mobile, will help customers make informed decisions about their mobility choices, including the critical first and last miles of transit trips where a bus or train alone doesn’t provide full access. The TriMet Open Data approach have sparked the creation of 57 TriMet Apps.

On the other end of the spectrum, the intertwining of OSM and TriMet application lead to the development of several OSM wiki pages dedicated to OTP and TriMet applications with directions and best practices for mapping and tagging.

Main lessons:

  • Strong commitment to open source software, open data and crowdsourced data can create a full spectrum of useful web/mobile applications
  • Cooperation with sources of crowdsourced geographic information should be a two-way partnership that included both use of VGI data and support for further improvement of those datasets.
  • Continuous funding is needed in order applications, services and datasets to remain up-to-date and in line with the latest trends of application development both in terms of usability and functionality.