Transportation API: What It Is and How It Can Improve Your Business

Logistics, transportation, transit, and route optimization – all these concepts are usually associated with the goods delivery. But that's not the end of the story. In fact, there's another big thing that needs a variety of transportation options… We’re about people! And that's where a Transportation API and a Transit API come in. 

Such APIs are reshaping the industry, making the process faster, easier, and more efficient. And that's exactly what we're going to discuss in this article: transportation API, transit API, public transport API, their role in the industry, and how can benefit your business.

Transportation API and Transit API: Nuances to Know

It can be a real challenge to see the difference between the Transport API and the Transit API. Yes, sometimes even the pros feel confused. So let's start with a simple definition of both to make things clear.

Both transportation and transit are travel modes. So, when it comes to the transportation API, it provides travel data about the bus, car, and rail transportation network. The API allows a customer application to retrieve transportation data such as schedules, traffic data, service alerts, delays, stops, and routes.

Transit, in turn, is a kind of transportation that uses public transport systems to get people around a city/town and/or metropolitan area. Thus, when it comes to the Transit APIs  provide access and allow different public transport agencies to publish transit data for complex transport networks. These APIs enable users to view timetables for trains, buses, and ferries and help discover fares, access performance indicators, search access points, and so on​.

So, what is the main difference between transportation and transit? Transit focuses on public transportation systems and services while transportation refers to everything else – from cars and buses to bikes. For example, car transportation moves people directly from their homes to their workplaces while transit moves people within a city and/or metropolitan area from and to certain boarding points.

Public Transport API: What It Is and How It Can Help You Get Around

The Public Transportation API is the same as the Transit API. Such APIs allow users to retrieve public transport data and all the nuances such as arrival/departure times, view train/bus/ferry/tram schedules, learn about fares, search for boarding points, and so on. 

Thus, public transport APIs are a valuable tool that can be used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public transport systems. By providing real-time information about public transportation schedules, routes, stops, and disruptions that can be used to build a variety of applications, including:

  • Public transport apps that allow users to plan trips using public transportation;
  • Urban mobility solutions that combine data from public transit, ride-hailing services, and bike-sharing programs, to provide a comprehensive view of the transportation options available;
  • Travel websites and apps to provide users with information on public transportation options for their trips;
  • Enterprise applications so that businesses can track employee commuting patterns, plan events, and optimize logistics;
  • Real-time trip planners that can help users plan their trips by taking into account the real-time location of buses and trains.
  • Mobile ticketing, that allows users to purchase tickets for public transportation on-the-go.

Transit API: A More Specific Term to Learn

The term “transit API” generally refers to APIs designed to provide information specific to public transit systems, such as buses, subways, trams, trains, and ferries. These APIs can provide real-time data on schedules, arrivals and departures, service alerts, and more.

The term “public transport API” is often used interchangeably with “transit API,” but it can have a broader scope. It can potentially include other modes of public transportation, including data on ride-sharing services, taxis, or bike-sharing programs that are not strictly limited to scheduled services like buses or trains.

Transit App API: Application to Improve Your Business

Transit API helps websites, servers, and applications work and integrate effectively by allowing different software endpoints to communicate with each other. This is why such APIs are so popular in the transportation industry. 

Many private transportation companies have their own API connectivity, for example, Uber and Lyft. However, many use the third-party APIs that power public transportation websites and apps every day. These directions can be by bus, train, subway, tram, or even bicycle. 

You can use and combine several APIs to create your own Transit App API that will be a perfect fit for your needs. And it’s where API comes in. To avoid being founded here is a case study of the’s client on the project VTrack.

VTrack is a university project developed by a team of five undergraduate students from VIT-AP (Vellore Institute of Technology, Andhra Pradesh) in India. The project aims to solve the bus tracking problem faced by university students, faculty, and staff who commute to the campus daily about 45 kilometers.

The VTrack app uses the API to continuously monitor the live location of buses and provide students with real-time data on their location and arrival times. This data helps students plan their commute effectively and reach the boarding point before the bus arrives. Public Transit API Mode for Your Needs

As cool as it is, API doesn’t provide a comprehensive ready-to-use solution like some public transit APIs. However, API offers different travel modes so that it can become a part of the public transit application, platform, or solution.

The transit mode of the API provides a robust set of features that significantly enhance the development of public transit solutions. Here are the key benefits to mention for the purpose:

  • Accurate and up-to-date public transit information:
    The transit mode allows developers to calculate distances for routes using public transit options. Results from transit requests may vary over time due to changes in the road network, updated traffic conditions, and the distributed nature of the service.
  • Flexible time specification:
    Developers can specify either a departure_time or an arrival_time based on the needs so that the solution caters to different scenarios, allowing to plan journeys based on desired arrival or departure times.
  • Multimodal support:
    The API supports various public transit modes, including buses, subways, trains, trams, and light rail. Using the API for public transit, you can set up modes of transportation, such as walking, biking, or driving, to calculate route time and distance for the most efficient route to your destination.The transit_mode parameter allows users to specify their preferred modes of transit, offering a personalized and user-centric experience.
  • Comprehensive transit options:
    The transit_mode=rail parameter further extends the versatility of the API by including travel by train, tram, light rail, and subway.
  • Optimized route selection:
    By specifying transit preferences, the API calculates time for shortest or fastest routes that prioritize the selected transit modes, contributing to a seamless and efficient journey for users.
  • Easy integration:
    The API's straightforward documentation and integration process make it accessible to developers with varying levels of expertise, facilitating the development of public transit applications.

Seeing is believing. Better to see once than to hear twice. So here is a real-life case of developing public transit software using the Transit API Mode.

Turnn is presented as a comprehensive personal trip planner for employees, combining planning, booking, and payment for various mobility services in a unified app. For their MaaS solution, Turnn needed a reliable data provider to connect different transport operators and manage mobility for employers and employees seamlessly.

So, Turnn incorporated's API to access real-time data on routes, travel times, prices, and connections to various transport modes. With API transit mode, Turnn can offer travelers a broad spectrum of transport options, allowing them to circumvent congestion and optimize their routes based on real-time conditions.

So, now Turnn users can make informed choices about their trips, considering factors like cost, time, and convenience, leading to a smoother travel experience without the hassle of paperwork for business trips.

Transportation API and Transit API: Bottom Line

Both Transportation API and Transit API are essential parts of the transportation systems to make it efficient and client-oriented. Such APIs retrieve real-time data on distance, road conditions, and the best route at the moment to help users plan their trips accordingly.

So the clearest benefit of real-time transit information is reduced wait time. Likely, someone is looking up the next bus/train/tramway on their device before they get to the station. Sure, saving two minutes per trip doesn't sound like much or impressive. But over time, it really adds up, and in the long run, when users equate transit with having a service that's just there when they need it, it makes it feel more on-demand. That allows you and your employees to plan your day much more efficiently. API is not a on-the-shelf transportation API or comprehensive transit API. However, it excels as a distance matrix API and geocoding API and thanks to its transit API mode and pack of features offered it can be a part of the bigger solution related to public transportation. And real-world cases prove that. Just contact us to get all the details on our APIs and features that can be useful for you.

Explore API Today!

Are you intrigued by the transformative power of Transportation and Transit APIs? Whether it's enhancing your logistics operations or developing a comprehensive public transport application, the API offers the precision and flexibility you need.