Public transit app: possible revenues and IP issues?


I am looking at developing a website sort of like ones that NY-area commuter railroads have, showing train departure times and tracks. One major transit hub near me has no central location for this info (either online or in the hub itself), and it makes commuting through the hub a real hassle.

My website would by much much simpler, however; it would just list the route, list of departure times and tracks (as the tracks are set in advance at my hub and don't change except when timetables are revised, a few times a year).


  1. Is public transportation track info the IP of the public transportation provider? (If so, I'd need to get the provider's consent, I know.)
  2. There are a slew of public transit apps available for the NY subway, and surely for other transit providers. Are there any surveys that are available for these apps' revenues, development costs and profits?

Development Revenue Intellectual Property

asked Jan 30 '12 at 10:19
1,747 points

2 Answers


  1. Check the transit agency's website for data feeds and regulations. The transit agency serving DC metropolitan area has had a history of protecting its scheduling & real-time arrival data and now has a license agreement to use the data.
  2. Private companies rarely disclose their finances. You can estimate sales revenues based on the app price & the number of downloads. For ad-supported apps, the calculations are much harder because you also need to know how often people use it. I suggest you approach the money question differently. First, estimate your cost of development. Then, come up with the amount you would like to make. Finally, estimate the number of downloads and/or ad impressions and/or ad clicks to make that money.
answered Jan 30 '12 at 12:09
1,963 points


I can only help you with question 1. Facts are not protected by copyright. When and where a train arrives would most likely be considered a fact. I wouldn't worry about it. That said, I remember some time back when a city (or the company they outsourced to) tried to stop an app developer from doing basically the same thing. I couldn't find the article, though.

answered Jan 30 '12 at 10:49
Stephen Burch
915 points

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Development Revenue Intellectual Property