Transportation Navigator: Virginia’s Approach to Providing a One-Click Resource

  • Author: Brittany Voll
  • Date: August 4, 2022

The Transportation Navigator launched in Virginia in October 2021 as the Commonwealth’s first statewide one-click resource for publicly available transportation options.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) developed the platform with stage one functionality – to serve as a free, central location where any rider, resident, mobility manager, or other interested person can locate comprehensive transportation information. A public-private partnership with the nonprofit VirginiaNavigator served as the foundation for the project and provided structure to the web-based resource. 

Now, through SeniorNavigator.org, VeteransNavigator.org, and disAbilityNavigator.org, anyone can freely access transportation-specific pages that provide contact and eligibility information for hundreds of transportation providers in Virginia. Another project component – a new Virginia Transportation Finder widget – is housed on the DRPT website, and several other partner websites within the Commonwealth of Virginia. The widget can be customized for use on any website, and DRPT will coordinate with interested groups to create and place a new widget. (Any organization seeking to add the widget to their site may contact Brittany Voll at DRPT for assistance)

A screenshot of the Virginia Transportation finder created by Virgina DRPT.
The Virginia Transportation finder's interface found on Virginia DRPT's website.

 

The effort to develop the Transportation Navigator began in 2018 upon the request of the Virginia Association of Mobility Managers who did not have a centralized resource to locate transportation providers and were creating analog lists to use in their work. When DRPT contracted a consultant team to update the state’s Coordinated Human Services Mobility Plan, a GIS mapping platform for the mobility managers was part of the original work plan. Ultimately, the GIS platform served as the basis of the current iteration of the one-click resource, and its data was exported in order to populate the Transportation Navigator. DRPT received a discretionary Mobility for All grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in 2020 to build the current set of resources, and received grant management from the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center. 

As a second component to the project, DRPT worked with Trillium Transit (an Optibus Company) to develop General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data for 16 rural fixed-route public transit agencies that didn’t have the ability to develop the feeds in-house. The use of open data standards in public transit allows the GTFS data to be used by many tools, resources, and platforms, such as transit trip planning through Google Maps and similar platforms as well as third-party apps. DRPT developed a statewide GTFS clearinghouse (https://virginia-gtfs.com/), thus providing a comprehensive resource for bus transit routes and stops in Virginia.

Next Steps: Building Up to Stage Two

DRPT recently received a discretionary Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility grant to enhance the Transportation Navigator and start building a stage two one-click resource from the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Transit Administration in June 2022. For this project, DRPT plans to expand Virginia’s GTFS data to cover rural on-demand and dial-a-ride providers using new GTFS-Flex standards, and populate the GTFS-Flex data to a robust mapping platform. Ideally, the mapping platform will provide car share and volunteer trip information, traffic data, and locations of park and ride lots, bike shares, electric vehicle charging stations, and bike paths. DRPT will also work with partner transit agencies to offer trip planning and booking/ticketing through the mapping platform.

Key Resources

DRPT worked for years to develop this resource with collaboration, funding, and support from various sources:

  • Virginia Association of Mobility Managers
  • Michael Baker International
  • Kimley-Horn
  • Trillium Transit an Optibus Company
  • VirginiaNavigator
  • U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Transit Administration
  • National Aging and Disability Transportation Center
  • National Center for Mobility Management
  • American Public Transportation Association
  • GoVermont
  • Ride Connection (Portland, OR)
  • Ride Alliance (Denver, CO)
  • Myriad local transportation organizations in Virginia

We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Kirby Wilhelm (wilhelm@ctaa.org).

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