NABSA Releases GBFS Guidance for Municipalities

Modeled after the widely used General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS) defines a common format to share the real-time status of a shared mobility system. The purpose of a data specification is to enable the exchange of information between multiple parties in a way that ensures that all parties agree on what the information represents. You can think of it like a dictionary, where each term has a definition and a set of rules for how it can be used. The GBFS format allows mobility data to be used by a range of software applications for trip planning, research, analysis, visualization, and regulation. This publicly available data allows regulators, researchers, and community members to gain insights that have helped municipalities meet their goals. GBFS data is also used by trip planning applications to present shared mobility services to travelers.

In 2019, NABSA partnered with MobilityData to convene the first annual GBFS Developers Workshop. This event brought together public, private, and nonprofit sector data specialists and GBFS stakeholders to dig into key issues to move the specification forward. One of the many outcomes from this event was an identified need for municipal staff to have more guidance about what GBFS is and how to best engage with it. This need, coupled with questions NABSA receives from municipal shared micromobility members and stakeholders, provided the impetus and foundational input that led to the year-long development of our new guidance document, Data Good Practices for Municipalities: Understanding the General Bikeshare Feed Specification. Here’s a bit about what you can find inside:

Definition of GBFS
The document begins by addressing the increasing number of questions municipal staff tasked with overseeing the public right-of-way and managing shared micromobility are facing: What is GBFS? Why should I use it? How do I use GBFS? What is the difference between MDS and GBFS? The guidance document provides municipalities with foundational knowledge about GBFS and how to use it, explains the difference between GBFS and MDS, introduces the benefits of the new vehicle_id rotation requirement in GBFS version 2.0, as well as offering additional contextual information.

The success of GBFS relies heavily on how it is implemented. We provide a list of recommended good practices to ensure the most effective use of the specification. Recommendations include requiring GBFS feeds to be publically accessible and do not require authentication and several others.

Additional Resources
We encourage municipalities to further their GBFS education by directly participating in the governance and enhancement of the specification through the GBFS Repository on Github. Additionally, we provide a list of resources about mobility data sharing, user privacy, and managing mobility data.

NABSA has long advocated for the use of open data in the shared micromobility industry. In 2015, NABSA spearheaded the development of GBFS Version 1. The design provided real-time bikeshare system statuses that allow users to better plan trips. In 2019, NABSA selected MobilityData to become the technical steward for the GBFS community, which involved improving the specification and its governance to meet evolving industry needs. NABSA and MobilityData continue to partner on the effort. GBFS Version 2.0 was released in March 2020 and Version 2.1-RC2, which supports dockless and hybrid systems and more extensive pricing representation, was released in October 2020.

As the use of open data evolves, so too will best practices. You can learn more about NABSA’s work with GBFS and open data at