Hey! I am Tim, and together with Brecht I am working on providing a GTFS and GTFS Realtime feed for the Belgian railways. To find more information about this, you can read our previous blogpost ‘NMBS going Open Data’.
The questions we get the most about our project (besides PJ asking for our presentation plans) are: “What is the point of what you’re doing? I mean I can access the NMBS website, right? Why are you making this?“
So why are we making this?
Simply put, because we are too dependant on the NMBS website and app. A lot of people, including Brecht and I, think the NMBS website is not efficient. It feels crowded and busy and just needs a big overhaul. Many tourists also struggle to find the correct website or buy train tickets and so on. But hey, we are developers, why wouldn’t we build our own website for the Belgian railways? That would be awesome, right?
Well, we’d love to do that, but it is not that simple. The NMBS does not provide an API or a way for developers to access all this information.
That’s where Brecht and I come in.
We are making sure that every developer can access all this data. We are making the data for the static routes as well as providing the real-time data.
But how does this benefit me as an end-user? First you will have a wide range of apps and website that allows you to search for the right train. Let’s go through a use case that would improve my day-to-day life.
You wake up in the morning and check on your phone which train you need to get. After having a quick breakfast and shower you check your phone again and see that you got a notification saying your train is going to be delayed by half an hour, based on statistics.
Because of this early warning you are able to reschedule your day by working from home or maybe you can just get an extra cup of coffee in the station.