Jonathan Raper: “transportAPI.com is a growth story from zero to a million.”

TransportAPI was started in 2012 and has been up and running ever since. At the moment, 25% of bus and rail apps in the UK are powered by transportAPI.
They get 2 billion hits every year, power a whole series of different apps, have Alexa skills, data-driven advertising for example with Virgin Trains and much else – this is a huge range of delivery. The app provides you with live information about bus timetables, taxi routes, and fares, trains schedule etc. Basically, it provides you with information about all the means of transport with real-time integration in under 500 milliseconds.

So, how did they build this?


They started by building a platform with a high amount of generality, gained some popularity, which helped to bring in investors and raise funding, used the freemium engagement, found a product market in the UK, started by selling general product enhancements and finally got rid of the things which didn’t work. Because in their own words: “All that matters in the business is understanding the value your customers need”.

Some of their most important key business decisions included adopting product management disciplines with API deliverables, identifying the gross profit for the core, creating a repeatable product, finding themselves some compatible API partners to cross-aggregate, creating open terms to ensure low/no friction downstream, mined our own data assets to create new products and used API integrations to create value at customer and apply leverage

But let’s get technical for a moment. For those who may not know, API (application programming interface) is a web address for every bit of data about the transport network, which enables you to find exactly what you need to know. API is in the middle of an aggregation chain. Aggregators handle huge data as a service every day of the year and they sit in aggregation segment of the market.

Some of the major key technical transitions transportAPI has made include:

1. Moving from open data aggregation to real-time content integration
2. Moving from 95% to 99.9% inventory in backfilling missing content
3. Transforming API from database browser to resources matching use cases
4. CTO disciplines: code review, tech debt control, you write it you deploy it
5. Developing an execution
6. Scaling the microservices

And the benefits are huge! They created a single harmonized RESTful API for an entire state and across all modes, including bus, train, boat, taxi etc. No matter if you are located on a small island in Scotland or catching a ferry in London – there is always an answer on how you could be doing your journey in the best way possible. The integration of data across the modes is very useful for users of the platform since it allows you to unify modes of travelling – for example if you travel by train, then by the time you will reach the station, a taxi will be there waiting for you!

Since transportAPI is an independent source of performance data for MaaS optimizations, it can give performance information and feedback for different operators and through that motivation for them to improve their service quality! So, in a sense, they are improving UK’s transportation quality each day.

The next challenge for transportAPI is – how can they gather what they’ve learned in the UK and bring it across Europe?