Chennai/Bus Route mapping project

From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Chennai bus route mapping project is a community effort to map the entire bus network of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation using the OpenStreetMap platform and build services on this data for the benefit of the public.


The Chennai public bus transport network, operated by the MTC Chennai is expanding at a very fast rate. Even though network capacity has been increasing, people have been slow to switch over from private vehicles to buses. While the major reason for this can be attributed to convenience, a significant proportion do not use buses solely because a proper information system is not in place to provide route and timing information. By having such an information system in place through the use of offline and online services, both the public and MTC can greatly benefit. Each private vehicle taken off the road contributes to the reduction of your travel time.

After personal interaction with various government agencies including the MTC, Chennai Corporation and Traffic Police, it was found that none of them maintain updated electronic information on the exact routes and the roads the buses take(!) The concept of maps has still not reached the MTC and every bus route has only been recorded as a series of stage stoppings. To wait for the MTC themselves to provide routing details of the buses including maps will take them many more years due to 1)Shortage of labour 2)Lack of technical knowledge and 3)Information systems are always low priority. The only way to fill the gap is through a community effort in which all of us are the stakeholders and each would benefit from the aggregated knowledge.

Ultimate Goal

To enable a person to decide if it is possible to use public transport to make his trip instead of a private vehicle. This can be achieved by providing offline information like printed maps/timitables as well as online services like real time bus tracking, journey planner etc.

Why OpenStreetMap?

OSM is an ideal platform to use for building the public transport geographical dataset because:

  1. Its free and open source
  2. Already has established guidelines
  3. Availability of online and offline tools for collaborative contribution
  4. Freedom in mapping content
  5. Parallel development of the free Chennai city map
  6. Quick updating of maps (~20min for osmarender)
  7. Powerful API, can also be used with the mapstraction common API library
  8. Ability to create a custom service using collected data
  9. Above all, as the OSM project gains popularity in India, the number of contributers will rise exponentially making the data more dynamic and accurate

For a working example of the power of OSM data see:

Existing information sources

After personal visits to the MTC, it has been found that there are no records that show what road a bus takes. All the routes are managed as a string of fare stages. A fare stage is approximately 2kms and can include numerous bus stops. This route information can be accessed at the MTC website. Since the MTC will continue to use the stage system to define a bus route, we must use that as the start and build onwards from there.

So far, the existing sources of information are:

Project tasks

The aim is to build a comprehensive, up-to-date and accurate public transport geographical dataset through a crowdsourcing approach. This would involve the following different tasks which are divided into various sub-projects

Information Collection Phase

Bus Stops

  • Get Latitude and Longitude information for all existing bus stops
  • Add more bus stops
  • For each bus stop, assign stage names and classify into major or minor bus stop
  • Identifying transit stations and inter modal interchange areas


  • Mapping the entire bus network roads
  • Classifying the roads based on bus frequency
  • Dividing bus route roads into segments (OSM)
  • Tagging roads segments with the routing information using Relation:route
  • Share Auto corridors and terminal points
  • Identifying parking amenities at public transport centres


  • Build website to correct the MTC route information collected in step 3
  • Creating aliases for stage names

A webpage for each of the above tasks would help doing quicker. Till then, it has to be done manually.

This will be done using two parallel components. Get involved in whatever strikes your fancy:

  1. OSM Mapping- Where mappable information is directly collected into the OSM database.
  2. Custom Mapplet- Where a custom mapping server is deployed to collect MTC specific route and stage information from the public in a collaborative manner, into a custom database. This is to help a normal net user share his information without getting into the details of OSM mapping. Requires coders to build the mapping application.

Information Deployment Phase

The aim is to use the collected information in more powerful ways than the OSM static map. The OSM database and the information collected is free to use, so let your imagination run wild. See Develop for more information.


Please signup in helping out either with the mapping or coding or absolutely anything else


OSM username/email/other contact


Name/email/other contact/languages(php,mysql,javascript,python)

  • Hari user:Hari.manivannan/Java,PHP,MySql
  • Yuvi,, Python, .NET.
  • Krupa, shankarkrupa at yahoo pulli com, .NET/PHP/javascript
  • Ananthaganesh/,JSP,Servlets,J2EE/
  • J Kishore kumar user:Jkk / jkk.2k9 at gmail dot com / / Python,Web development
  • Varrun Ramani,user:darthsitius / darthsitius [at] gmail [dot] com / J2EE, Python, PHP(basic)/MySQL

How you can help

  1. Register with Openstreetmap
  2. Add your name to the participants list
  3. Join the Madras Routers Google Group mailing list
  4. Choose the project page of the component that you are interested in for more details. Mappers go here and Coders in here
  5. Expand/Maintain this wiki
  6. For general city mapping, check out the Chennai project page
  7. If you have an opinion, dont keep it to yourself but let it be heard on the discussion page


Blogs/Press/External Discussion links