Free the MUNI Data

Routesy LogoMy favorite iPhone application has been Routesy (see ).  The app figured out where I was, and would tell me arrival times for the MUNI routes I choose. 

The information was presented in an incredibly useful and clear way.  The Routesy app was even featured in the iTunes store as a staff favorite.

Suddenly, Routesy stopped working.
Apparently NextBus Information Systems claims that they are entitled to a prohibitively expensive fee of $1 per download for the MUNI data supplied it by our public transportation system. The app developer, Steven Peterson, says he is continuing to try to get access to the MUNI data feed, but for the moment, MUNI data is not being shared.

What gives??!   Isn’t MUNI data public?  If not,… wow!  It should be!

I’ve emailed Supervisor Bevan Dufty who is also on the MTA.  I’ve also called MUNI at 415.701.4500 — I got voicemail and left them a message.

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3 Responses to Free the MUNI Data

  1. bigjohnsf says:

    In the absence of all the details of the contract…

    Nextbus installed their equipment to collect the data, and in consideration muni gave them the copyright on that data. Until the contract is renegotiated Nextbus can license or not license the use of the data they collect.

    • ozdachs says:

      I, too, have not seen any contract wording.

      However, it is against the public interest for public transit data to be owned by a private party who then will not share that information in a reasonable manner. Contracts against the public interest are not legal. SO, I will assume that what we are dealing with now is a vendor (NextBus Information Systems (not NextBus, btw)) who is overstepping their bounds. No harm in them trying — but MUNI and the City need to step in and tell them to back off.

      Good public policy requires that the information be shared in a reasonable manner. Bevan Dufty is on the policy board for MUNI (the MTA), and I expect him to insure that good public policy is made!

      • bigjohnsf says:

        Nextbus doesn’t own the data, they license it, in consideration for equipment they install on buses so The City doesn’t have to pay for them.

        There are many ways of defining the public interest — you and I often disagree on what that is.

        You and I both know that Nextbus is assigning a preemptive license fee, so that they can say that they are offering to share the data, when they really don’t want to.

        One thing I don’t get… can’t you get on your iPhone? I thought they did everything.

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