Building Modeify: Open Source TDM Technology in Arlington and Beyond

Kevin Webb is a co-founder at Conveyal, a consultancy that develops open source technology for transit agencies. Conveyal offers its services to governments, transport providers, and non-governmental organizations with the ultimate goal of encouraging sustainable transport modes and promoting smarter use of information tools to improve transport outcomes.


Kevin’s team at conveyal is using their OpenTripPlanner project to further develop open source technology. Spearheaded by TriMet in Portland, Oregon, OpenTripPlanner is an open source platform that helps show how information technology tools fit into the rider communications space. TriMet “ultimately wanted to do more in terms of multimodal planning than Google and the existing status quo was allowing them, so they took on the idea of actually building their own open source multimodal journey planner.” OpenTripPlanner “came out of the idea of building an open source platform that everybody could share and collaborate the creation of” which Kevin states, “is driving the community of software developers around the world.”

Open Source TDM Tools in Arlington: CarFreeAtoZ

Arlington contacted Conveyal, wanting to discuss TDM applications and to adapt the open source technologies that were being used in traditional rider communications by transit agencies to fit into their own TDM space. Conveyal helped them to build the CarFreeAtoZ platform “as an open source extension that sits on top of OpenTripPlanner.”

“One of the cool open source packages that came out of this project was the transport visualization map that draws the schematic transit maps and layers that on top. That’s something we’ve always wanted to see.” The application takes the data from a home location and a work location and provides all the different routes to get between destinations. The platform provides the user with alternative modes of travel that include walking, biking, and carpool options. Multimodal layers are important to the city of Arlington; “Having access to an open source platform, they’ve been able to say ‘we really think bikeshare is one of the things we want to be showing prominently as an option and how that compares against other options,’ and the tool can be adapted to support that.” The CarFreeAtoZ platform incorporates bikesharing systems, allowing users to view how bike sharing might affect their commute.


One of the policy goals that was presented to Kevin was to, “help people look at different tradeoffs. In this case they’re very interested in the different kinds of variables people consider as they make transit choices. One of those is cost, but there are also different ways of thinking about time in terms of the time spent traveling and the time spent in a productive use of your time. If you’re able to read or work if you’re commuting on transit for example, as well as health goals.” The ability to compare the costs and benefits allows commuters to determine the optimal commute based on a number of different metrics.

RideAmigos and Conveyal share the same goals of making TDM platforms more accessible, intelligible, and open.


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