A Public Transport Mapping Example Using perl and mySQL

Extended Abstract for the SVG Open 2003 Conference, 13-18 July, 2003

There exists an ongoing challenge for presenting public transport internet information in an optimal way. This challenge was greatly eased with the introduction of SVG. Benefits are experienced for intending passengers, as SVG opens up a whole new way of organising information about public transport services, times and routes.

My proposed presentation deals with a public transport mapping and information site currently being constructed for services in the City of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The Brisbane region is the third-most populous in Australia. For the purpose of the example, we restricted our database to the major rail operator, covering Queensland, and the major bus operator in Brisbane. To illustrate the scale of the project, the Brisbane City Council area is home to 900,000 people. The database contains about 8000 stopping places and 1900 route kilometres.

The presentation will concentrate on what we discovered when putting everything together.

The live internet address is at http://qroti.com/placeinfo/map/. QROTI (Queensland's Railways On The Internet) was established in 1996 as a non-profit organisation, providing an independent source of rail transport information in the area. It's from this base that we were able to explore the possibility of including all modes of public transport (i.e. rail, bus and ferry) in our website portfolio using SVG.

We used perl and mySQL in the project due to their free nature and potential for rapid application development. The target user agents were Internet Explorer 6 for Windows and the Adobe SVG Viewer 2, as they are the most popular combination in the field.

The original data sources (MapInfo Interchange Format for transport routes and Comma Separated Values for timetables) were imported into mySQL using custom perl scripts. perl scripts are also used to dynamically generate timetables and maps to the web from the mySQL tables.

Our development approach emphasised the following:

Features of the example are:

Features that can be added once we have a full corpus of data might be:

Examples of things we learnt were:

About the Author

Brendan Morley is the Technical Director of Proceed Media Pty Ltd, an Australian Company. The company exists as an intellectual property placeholder for any technology developed for the QROTI web site. Brendan developed this work in after-hours time, having seen the potential of SVG fairly early on and spending perhaps the last 18 months on this project. He is also interested in public transport (rail in particular) and perl programming. He sees that one way to get people out of their cars is easy-to-understand public transport information. QROTI is his gift to the community of Queensland. However, commercial enquiries are always welcome!