Tutorial on creating and querying your own multi-modal route planner

by Marcus
2 minutes read

I've written an introductory tutorial (approx. 2-3 hours to complete) covering the setup and querying of an OpenTripPlanner (OTP) instance. OTP is an open-source and cross-platform multi-modal route planner written in JAVA. It uses imported Open Street Map (OSM) data for routing on the street and path network and supports multi-agency public transport routing through imported GTFS feeds. It can also apply a digital elevation model to the OSM street network, allowing, for example, cycle-friendly routes to be requested. OTP has a web front-end that can be used by end-users, and a sophisticated routing API.

A major advantage of running your own multi-modal route planner is the ability to carry out analysis using amended transport data. Services such as as Google Maps or TransportAPI are based on current public transport schedules and the existing road network. OTP enables you to modify transit schedules and/or make changes to the underlying street network. By editing a local copy of OSM, you can model the effects of opening new roads, closing roads, or imposing other restrictions. You can also look back in time. For example, you might want to examine the effect of reductions in rural bus services on accessibility of health facilities. To do this you would need a network with bus schedules as they were in previous years.

The tutorial consists of three parts:

  • You’ll start by building an OTP network graph for the street network and public transport services in Greater Manchester, and then launch your OTP instance and request routes using the web interface.
  • Next, you’ll query the OTP Isochrone API to obtain travel-time polygons, visualising the accessibility of Manchester Airport by public transport.
  • And finally, you’ll automate querying the OTP route planner API, looking up route information for each Lower Layer Super Output Area (LSOA) in Greater Manchester.

The tutorial is available on my GitHub. Everything you need, including datasets and code, is provided in a single download.