The MTA is iterating

When you think of iterative development, you’re unlikely to also think “government agency.” You’re even less likely to think “MTA.”

But that might not be the case in the future, as today the MTA showed a strong sign that the situation is changing: They listened to feedback and responded. Quickly.

In my post yesterday, I identified several aspects of the new developer resources page that could be improved. On Thursday and today I had more communications with representatives from the agency and provided some additional feedback.

This afternoon — less than 48 hours after my post went online — they addressed several of my suggestions for improvement. First, they’ve significantly streamlined the download process, replacing a form requiring lots of personal information with an optional one that simply asks for your email address — so you can be notified of data updates — and what you plan to use the data for. This information is entirely optional as there is also now a link to take you directly to the download page.

Second, they explicitly added information about how frequently the schedules are updated, as well as upload dates for each of the datasets.

Lastly, they’ve posted GTFS data for the MTA Bus Company. This is another big milestone, as it means that now every single MTA transit agency has its data online, for free, in GTFS.

These changes — along with the rapidity with which they were made — show that the MTA is serious about open data and proactively working with the developer community.

For an agency that gets a lot of flack (both unwarranted and warranted), they deserve credit where credit is due. Bravo, MTA!