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Bibiana McHugh: Open Data Evangelist

Bibiana McHugh: Open Data Evangelist

 

Making a Difference

Stories of TriMet employees going the extra mile to make a difference in our community—and beyond.

The visionary behind Google Transit, TriMet’s Bibiana McHugh is making trip planning easier by improving access to transit data.

Perhaps you plan trips on TriMet’s Interactive Map. Or, maybe you like using your new smartphone to find out when your bus is arriving, or have an app that wakes you up as you approach your MAX station.

One person’s determination has helped make these and other useful tools possible: TriMet’s IT Manager of Geographic Information Systems, Bibiana McHugh.

This smart, data-savvy woman—with the support of the IT Department—has put TriMet “on the map” for our willingness to share transit data.

While traveling abroad in 2005, Bibiana was frustrated that transit information was hard to find online. She came home thinking it should be as easy to plan a transit trip as it is to get driving directions, no matter where you are.

“Our transparency allows people to use our data and develop smart, innovative mobile applications to help riders—at no cost to TriMet.” —Bibiana McHugh

She set out to make that happen. Bibiana contacted Google, Mapquest and Yahoo to see if they were interested. At first, there was no response. But she kept at it, and, eventually, Google responded.

The team went into action, collaborating with Google engineers to make TriMet’s schedule data work with Google Maps.

“We had to boldly go where no transit agency had gone before,” says Bibiana with a quick smile. “As as result, we were the first to share our data and participate with Google Transit, which lets you plan transit trips in Google Maps.” She adds that the great group of people she works with—and TriMet’s commitment to open data—really made it happen. 

The Google Transit project not only made trip planning easier for TriMet riders, it was a catalyst for the entire transit industry. Today, nearly 500 agencies participate, giving people all over the world better tools to get around.

But Bibiana didn’t stop there. Since then, her team has made nearly all TriMet data accessible for anyone to use. Schedules, stops, and even real-time arrival information are available for developers on trimet.org.

“Our transparency allows people to use our data and develop smart, innovative mobile applications to help riders—at no cost to TriMet,” says Bibiana.

To see all the useful transit tools created by independent programmers using TriMet's open data, check out the TriMet App Center.