Enable Multimodal Transport with NeTEx and GTFS Data Standards

9 minutes read
01 August 2023

A seamless travel experience from start to finish is now standard for passengers. As displayed in the McKinsey research “The future of mobility“, by 2035, there will be a significant decline of approximately 15 percentage points in the proportion of passenger miles travelled (PMT) via private cars. Simultaneously, emerging alternative modes of transportation that are currently not widely recognized will experience substantial growth. Moreover, the integration of transportation options through applications has the potential to make intermodal journeys more prevalent.

Here’s where multimodal transport comes into play, an innovative concept that revolves around combining different transportation modes to create a seamless and efficient mobility experience.

To ensure multimodal transport, different technical standards for exchanging data are rising. Some of these standards are imposed at a legislative level, either national or international. Others are widely adopted in the industry and act as de facto standards but are not compulsory by law.

In this article, we will delve deeper into what multimodal transport is. Then, we will illustrate some of the most important standards, breaking them down in de jure and de facto. At the end of the article, the reader should have a basic comprehension of the standards and how to strive for a multimodal transport experience.


What is Multimodal Transport

Multimodal transport refers to the integration of different modes of transportation, such as air, rail, road, and sea, to provide a seamless and more sustainable travel experience for passengers.

The concept of multimodal transport aims to improve transportation efficiency, reduce congestion, lower carbon emissions, and enhance the overall travel experience.

Multimodal transport can be considered a subset of Integrated Mobility. Integrated mobility refers to a holistic approach to transportation that aims to seamlessly connect different modes of transport, such as public transit, private vehicles, bicycles, and walking, into a unified and efficient system. The goal is to provide travellers with a variety of transportation options that can be easily accessed and used interchangeably to reach their destinations.

Moreover, integrated transport systems often integrate technology and digital composable platforms to enhance the overall experience. Passengers can access real-time information about routes, schedules, and available modes of transport through mobile applications or interactive displays at stations. This empowers individuals to make informed decisions and choose the most efficient routes based on their preferences and current traffic conditions.


Integrating Complementary Services for a Seamless Travel Experience

In addition to multimodal transport, there are several auxiliary services and facilities that can complement the overall travel experience. Their purpose is to enhance convenience, comfort, and accessibility for passengers.

These subsidiary offerings can vary depending on the specific transportation infrastructure or service provider. Here are a few examples:

  • Museum and Cultural Attractions
  • Retail and Dining Facilities
  • Car Parks and Rental Services
  • Accommodation Services
  • Information and Assistance Centers

The inclusion of subsidiary offerings in multimodal transport has the goal of creating a more comprehensive and user-friendly travel experience. By integrating additional services within transportation hubs or terminals, passengers can conveniently access various amenities and make the most of their journey.


Technical Data Exchange Standards for Multimodal Transport

Multimodal transport involves the cooperation of several players; the addition of complementary services further increases the number of actors involved. From a technical point of view, it is necessary that all communicate using the same data standard. Nowadays, there are standards requested by governments, such as the European Union, and other standards that are commonly used and adopted in the mobility industry. To simplify the understanding of formats and requirements, we will call the former de jure standards and the latter de facto standards.

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De jure European Standards: Advancing Data Exchange for Public Transport

De jure standards refer to definitions, descriptions, or procedures that are established by a panel of experts and endorsed by a commission, which could be at the national level (such as AFNOR), European level (CEN), or international level (ISO). In this section, we will focus mainly on the European standards.

With the EU Regulation 2017/1926, the European Union asks each member state to implement a NAP (National Access Point), a place where mobility-related data is published and made available for use in specific data formats with the aim of making national transport data discoverable and enabling the creation of multimodal transport services.


Transmodel: the CEN European Reference Data Model for Public Transport

Transmodel is a dictionary that describes public transport wording and, above all, the links between all these terms. Transmodel is a foundation for a common language for public transport.

EU regulations require the utilization of Transmodel-based specifications to facilitate data exchange between transport operators and their respective reference NAPs, promoting data interoperability. However, the regulations do not provide explicit instructions on the metadata to be used for describing datasets or the implementation of NAPs. Consequently, each member state is developing its own National Access Point, employing various metadata schemas, and making their functionalities accessible through custom APIs.

Transport stakeholders (authorities and companies) have multiple and custom data formats that do not fit the required standards. So, industry operators should turn their custom data into interoperable ones, adopting specific data formats that meet the Transmodel requirements.

At the European level, the CEN has validated two standardized data exchange formats for implementing Transmodel: NeTEx – Network Timetables Exchange – and SIRI – Service Interface for Real-time Information. These projects have used submodels of Transmodel to generate physical models and XML schemas.

  • Network Timetable Exchange (NeTEx) is a CEN Technical Standard for exchanging public transport networks, schedules, and related data. It facilitates the exchange of data between various computer systems, enabling the sharing of passenger information, including details about stops, routes, timetables, fares, and related operational data.
  • Service Interface for Real-time Information (SIRI) is a CEN Technical Standard that specifies a European interface standard for exchanging information about the planned, current, or projected performance of real-time public transport operations between different computer systems. It enables the exchange of structured real-time information between pairs of server computers. This information includes schedules, vehicles, connections, and general operational messages pertaining to the services being provided.

There are also other three subgroups, using Transmodel as the Reference Data Model:



De facto Standards in the Mobility Industry

De facto standards are definitions, descriptions, or procedures that have been adopted through common usage, often driven by commercial interests and enforcement. GTFS Schedule and GTFS Realtime are globally recognized de facto standards that are widely employed in the mobility industry.


GTFS stands for General Transit Feed Specification and it is a standardized data format used for representing public transit schedules, routes, and geographic information. GTFS files typically contain information about transit agencies, routes, stops, schedules, and fare information. GTFS provides a common data format that can be used by different transit agencies and software applications to exchange transit data. It allows transit agencies to publish their data in a standardized format that can be easily consumed by third-party developers, applications, mobile apps, websites, and mapping services (Google Maps, Apple Maps, Esri, etc).

GTFS enables seamless integration and interoperability between different transit systems and software platforms, facilitating the development of innovative transit solutions. Overall, GTFS plays a crucial role in improving the accessibility and usability of public transit information, helping both transit agencies and the general public to easily navigate and plan trips using public transportation.



GTFS RT, which means General Transit Feed Specification Real-Time, is a data format used for providing real-time updates and information about public transportation systems. It is an extension of the GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification).

GTFS RT allows transit agencies to communicate real-time data to developers, applications, and end-users in a standardized and structured manner. It includes information such as:

  • Trip updates – delays, cancellations, and changed routes.
  • Service alerts – unforeseen events affecting a station, route, or the entire network.
  • Vehicle positions – information about the vehicles including location and congestion level.

This data format is crucial to improve the accuracy and reliability of transit information, improving the overall passenger experience. Developers can utilize GTFS RT to create applications and services that provide up-to-date information that enables passengers to plan their journeys more efficiently and reduce wait times.


TOMP-API: Facilitating Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Data Exchange

TOMP, that is Transport Operators and MaaS Providers, is a technical specification of how to exchange data between Transport Operators, MaaS (Mobility as a Service) Providers, organizations, and governments.

TOMP-API aims to facilitate the implementation of MaaS and the associated data exchange. The TOMP-API outlines a full MaaS journey, including operator information, planning, booking, support, payments, and trip execution.


Making Data Interoperable for Multimodal Transport with Mia‑Platform

It is necessary to have a converter that helps you to turn exposed custom data into standard data, hiding its complexity. In this way, the data becomes interoperable and standards-compliant using a solution.

Mia-Platform allows you to convert and expose your data and services complying with the standards (NeTEx, SIRI, GTFS, TOMP, etc) so your partners can easily integrate with a self-service mode.

Thanks to Mia-Platform Mobility Integration Portal you can aggregate information and expose data for the National Access Points (NAPs), being compliant with the law. At the same time, data can be shared with your partners with a self-service portal that allows you to monetize your APIs. In addition, partners will have access to:

  • Documentation: to consult and learn how to integrate the different services and data;
  • Marketplace: to easily collect and expose your APIs related to a particular business service, and allow a self-service onboarding of partners;
  • API Portal: to read the full catalog of your APIs and test them in a sandbox environment.


Embracing Multimodal Transport for a Sustainable Future

People’s travel habits are undergoing a significant transformation, and in addition to traditional public transportation, alternative modes of transportation are gaining popularity. This shift has led to the rise of Multimodal transport, a thriving concept that aims to offer interconnected, healthy, cost-effective, and sustainable means of transportation, enabling people to move seamlessly from one place to another. The goal is to provide individuals with diverse and flexible choices for their travel needs, reducing dependency on private vehicles and promoting environmentally friendly transportation solutions. By embracing Multimodal Transport, communities can improve accessibility, reduce traffic congestion, lower emissions and be more sustainable, and enhance overall transportation efficiency and convenience for citizens.

Mia-Plaform allows you to join the mobility revolution by being compliant with international and European standards and being able to take advantage of new business opportunities.

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What is Multimodal Transport
Integrating Complementary Services for a Seamless Travel Experience
Technical Data Exchange Standards for Multimodal Transport
Making Data Interoperable for Multimodal Transport with Mia‑Platform
Embracing Multimodal Transport for a Sustainable Future