Public transport

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logo Feature: Public transport
One example for Feature: Public transport
Description
Railways, buses, trams, etc.
Tags

An overview of current public_transport=* (or mass transit) related tagging.

Introduction

The main role of street maps has generally been to help people navigate when walking, or when using private motor vehicles on the public highway system.

Public transport provides an alternative which is often faster, more environmentally sustainable, and sometimes even more convenient.

Unlike with walking and driving, where it's enough for maps to simply describe the street and footpath layout, allowing people to decide their own route and schedule, with public transport, we need to describe the infrastructure (e.g., the train tracks) as well as the services which operate on them (e.g., express trains and local trains).

Whilst OpenStreetMap is probably not the place for full timetable information, adding information about public transport infrastructure and services to the map means that we can provide basic routing services. Very few other maps currently do this (although Google Transit is also making improvements in this area)

Discussion of public transport on OSM takes place on the talk-transit mailing list.

Types of public transport

Public transport comes in various different forms and types. Each type is usually distinguished by the technology and infrastructure it uses. For example, railways use trains running on metal rails, buses use the main road network, and airplanes use the sky…

Some types may blur the boundaries a little. For example, trams are a form of 'light rail' (using lighter-than-normal train vehicles) which typically run on metal rails embedded into public roads (although may also have sections of dedicated track).

The distinctions can be even more subtle. Buses and coaches, for example, both use motor vehicles on the public road network, however coaches tend to be bigger, and used for longer distances (with fewer stops).

Whilst it may be tempting to try and come up with definitions for these different types, ultimately, maps are most useful if they match with people's expectations. So, when choosing which type a particular public transport service falls into, it's generally best to go with whatever the users of that service general understanding of it would be.

Buses

Main article: Buses, coaches, guided-buses and trolleybuses all operate mainly on the highway (for Trams see the Train section below).

To map bus stops the tag highway=bus_stop has been used for several years and is still very wide spread. For very simple bus stops it is sometimes still used for new mapped bus stops.

A more detailed and more complex Public_Transport schema got approved in April 2011 and may be used for new mappings. Mainly there are used two tags: public_transport=stop_position describes the point on the street, where the bus stops. The other tag is public_transport=platform that locates the place where the passengers are waiting for the bus and can board the bus.

All tags belonging to a bus station can be put into a relation with type=public_transport and public_transport=stop_area.

Wires used by trolley buses can be mapped by adding trolley_wire=yes to the highway. The highway=bus_guideway tag should be used for sections of guided busway.

A route relation can be used to describing both a logical identifiable section of infrastructure or a transit service offered to the public with a certain name or reference.

Railways

Main article: Railways Railway services (mainline, metro, light rail, tram, etc.) all generally operate on metal rails. The main railway infrastructure is defined using railway=*

Like for buses public_transport=stop_position and public_transport=platform can be used for any type of railway halts. railway=subway_entrance can be used for define entrances to metro stations.

A more detailed description about stations and halts is described in the approved feature Public Transport

Trams

Main article: Trams Trams are a form of light rail which share their path with the road for some part of their route.

Tramways use the railway=tram tag, with this tag being either applied to the same way as the highway (when running along the street), or on a separate way. A separate way should be used when the tram track is separated from the street or where the ways need different tagging - for example where the road is one-way and the tram is two-way.

Aircraft

Main article: Aeroway Flying (in aircraft) has become one of the most prevalent means of long-distance public transport travel. Currently, flight paths aren't included on our map (they're a bit less physical than roads and rails). However, this mode of transport uses an extensive range of infrastructure, including airport terminals, taxiways, runways, and connecting transport services, and all of these features can be added to the map.

Whilst the map currently mostly goes down to the level of detail of showing airport buildings and runways, in future we may even be able to show the location of the individual aircraft 'gates', and the internal layout of airports.

Ferries

Main article: Ferries The route of a ferry service can be defined using ways tagged as route=ferry. For sections of route across open water such as the sea, lakes and wide rivers a new linear way tagged as route=ferry should be created. For rivers that use waterway=river then the route=ferry should be added to this way. If the ferry service ends along the length of an existing river then the river should be snipped into two at the point where the ferry service terminates. It is not clear how one tags a ferry that crosses a river that is constructed from a single way as both ends of the ferry would be at the same point. Possibly adding route=ferry to a node on the river may be appropriate (similar to a crossing point on a road).

Places where people and vehicles can access Ferry services should use public_transport=platform with ferry=yes and public_transport=stop_position. The earlier used amenity=ferry_terminal should not be used anymore, because it is very simplified and not exact enough.

The complete route for a ferry can be described using a Relations/Routes using route=ferry.

Cable cars

Main article: Aerialway Cable-cars, drag-lifts and chair-lifts can be modeled using aerialway=*. These can be considered as a form of public transport in that they are shared, operated for fixed times of day at predictable intervals. Some cable cars may operate to a clock-face timetable.

Aerialway stations are often tagged as aerialway=station but should be replaced with public_transport=station, public_transport=stop_position and aerialway=yes.

Service routes

Main article: Relation:route In addition to modelling the infrastructure on which vehicles operate and the places where people embark and disembark from transit services, it is also useful to be able to model the public transport services themselves. In particular, this makes it possible to provide public transport routing services.

A route is a relation that describes the physical path taken by the vehicles through the infrastructure by a transit service which is known to the public with a particular reference or name. A route should contain an ordered list of all ways used by the service from the starting station to the terminal station. The route also includes details of actual stop_positions (with role 'stop') and platforms (with role 'platform'). Each direction and each variant of the service is represented in an own route relation.

Typical tags used on a public transport service route relations are:

Key Value Description
type=* route name of network bus, tram, train, etc.
route=* train, bus, tram, etc. Type of public transport vehicle
ref=* text Reference code for route
name=* text Name for the route
operator=* text company or organisation that operates the route e.g. Deutsche Bahn AG, Connex, Interconnex usw.
network=* text Name (Abbr.) of the network e.g. BVG, RMV

Other tags may apply for different types of service, see approved feature Public Transport for more details.

All the routes belonging to the same service can be put into a master relation with type=route_master, containing all the keys that are valid for all sub-relations, directions and variants.

Tagging

Toolbox

Editors

The public transport plugin for JOSM simplifies the otherwise quite intricate editing of public transport data.

Maps

There are several people creating specialist public transport maps:

Mailing list

The talk-transit mailing list was created specifically for discussion of public transport related stuff.

Other tools

Details on usage of parameters is described on the public_transport page.

Public transports by country

See also

Further reading