Blocks are a way of capturing vehicle behavior for use in AVL and realtime systems, and for allowing in-seat transfers for Loop Routes and interlined Routes.
When to Use Blocks
There are two reasons to include blocks in GTFS:
- To show passengers in-seat transfer opportunities in a trip planner — indicating passengers can stay onboard the vehicle as the bus changes routes, or as it continues the next cycle of a Loop Route.
- For a real-time arrival estimate system.
How Many Blocks?
Generally, each separate entry in a paddle sheet or runcut should reflect a different block in GTFS. If these resources are not used by your agency, determine block assignments using the following:
- Do any vehicles service more than one Route in a given Service Day? This is called interlining and a single Block can be used across multiple routes to show which Trips are being serviced by that vehicle.
- If vehicles stay on one Route, how many vehicles service that Route on a given Service Day? Do they alternate, or does one service in the morning and another at night? If only the driver changes, but the vehicle stays the same, the same Block can be used for the duration of the Service Day.
- Do the same configurations of vehicles operate across different Service Days? For example, does only one bus service Route 1 Mon-Fri? If so, the same Block can be used for all M-F service. It is not necessary to have a different Block for a different Service Day, even if the exact vehicle used changes.
Create a New Block
In order to use Blocks in Trips, you need to create individual Block records. Click on the Blocks option from the Agency Dashboard.
If you have any Blocks already available for use, they will appear here.
Clicking on Add a Block will open a dialogue in which you can define a new Block label and assign the Block a color (for ease of identifying the Block in the Schedule View.)
Edit a Block
Block names and colors can be edited at any time by selecting the Block from the Block menu.
Delete a Block
Blocks be deleted by selecting the red "X" to the right of the Block in the Block menu. Deleting a Block will remove it from any Trips associated with it, but will not delete the Trips. If you wish to delete a Trip, see Delete a Trip.
Assign a Block to a Trip
Blocks cannot be assigned to Trips from within the Blocks menu. You must assign the Block when either creating or editing a Trip.
View Block Usage
You can view which Trips are assigned a single Block by selecting the Block from the Block menu. Usage is organized by Route:
Block usage can also be seen in Schedule format across Routes by using Block Schedules.
How is this Displayed in Trip Planners?
Trip planners will show a "Stay on Board" message for in-seat transfers between Routes (such as with an interlined vehicle.) If the vehicle continues on the same Route, then Google Maps does not show the "Stay on Board" message; travel along two successive Trips will show as continuous operation of one Route.
One of the most common validation errors is Overlapping Blocks. This occurs when two Trips overlap in the same Block. To identify where the overlap is happening see Block Schedules.
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