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Transit Tech Firm Optibus Buys Data Provider Trillium

The acquisition, a North American expansion move for Optibus, is designed to improve real-time communication updates for transit operators and users. Trillium serves hundreds of transit agencies in the U.S. and Canada.

Blurry transit
Israel-based mass transit technology provider Optibus is expanding in North America via the acquisition of Trillium, a software-as-a-service company that provides real-time transportation data and related services.

Trillium, based in Oregon and founded in 2007, sells General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) management software and other tools. Services include what the company called rider-focused websites, service alerts, interactive maps and consulting services.

“There has always been a need for real-time passenger information systems,” Optibus CEO and co-founder Amos Haggiag told Government Technology in an email interview. “But the pandemic really drove the point home about rapid, accurate communication about services and operational flexibility. This continues to be the case in cities still grappling with COVID-19.”

More than 350 transit operators and state and federal agencies in the U.S. and Canada use Trillium. Those clients include the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Caltrain, Anaheim Resort Transportation, San Francisco Bay Ferry, Sonoma County Transit in California, DC Streetcar, and other departments of transportation in Massachusetts, Oregon and Colorado.

Optibus will take all that — and Trillium’s 25 “data experts” — and create what it calls the Optibus Global Center for Data Excellence, a new subsidiary. The general idea is to build a one-stop software offering for daily transit operations while reducing friction and frustration for riders, according to the two companies.

“Open data systems are what drives public transport forward,” said Aaron Antrim, founder and CEO of Trillium, in a statement. “By joining Optibus, Trillium will integrate its data-centric offerings into an end-to-end software platform for public transportation operations.”

The deal marks the entry of Optibus into passenger information systems, Haggiag said, with clients able to send service updates via apps such as Google Maps — that is, meeting passengers where they already are online, and helping them to better plan routes without waiting too long and wasting time, among the common complaints when it comes to public, private and mass transit.

“Every day, billions of people use mobile apps to plan their journey on public transit,” he said. “When service data is missing or inaccurate, it negatively impacts the passenger experience and ridership levels.”
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in New Orleans.