January 2017

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Shapefiles and ArcGIS 10 file geodatabase and layer files


These data layers represent bus routes and stops within the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) public transit system. The layers were developed by the Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) of the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

The bus routes layer, named MBTABUSROUTES_ARC, includes the many local variations during the course of a day along each primary route, such as a short turn or a spur into a shopping center. Each "variant" (including inbound and outbound routes) is represented by its own feature, resulting in coincident or "stacked" arcs.

The bus stops layer is named MBTABUSSTOPS_PT. Each point has a unique identifier (STOP_ID), with a different point for stops on both sides of the road (for inbound and outbound bus routes).

These layers were provided to MassGIS by CTPS on January 3, 2016, and represent data for MBTA's fall 2016 schedule.


The primary input sources were the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) shapes, stops and stop-times files produced by the MBTA for each quarterly schedule.

The shapes file provides a sequence of point coordinates for each route. The stops file provides the coordinates for each transit stop and station. A sequential list of stops for each route was extracted from the stop-times file, which provides scheduled departure times by stop for each trip. The stop lists by route were edited to match those obtained from the MBTA's schedule database.

Point feature classes were generated from the shape and stop coordinate files, and their features snapped to 2011 Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) Roads roadway inventory features. Shape points for each route underwent further edits to match the path traversed by the route. A polyline feature for each route was then generated from the shape points using the ArcGIS Points to Line tool. Each polyline feature was converted to a route using the CreateRoute linear referencing tool. Stop points underwent further edits to improve locational accuracy.


The MBTABUSROUTES_ARC layer contains the following fields:
SHAPE_ID Unique bus route identifier (text string field)
MBTA_ROUTE Route identifier from the MBTA schedule database
MBTA_VARIANT Route variant identifier from the MBTA schedule database. Each route in the schedule may have trips that deviate from the primary path of the route. These alternate paths are known as variants.
MBTA_ROUTEVAR Concatenation of MBTA_route and MBTA_variant
CTPS_ROUTE_MAJOR Integer portion of CTPS_route
CTPS_ROUTE Numeric route identifier utilized by CTPS
DIRECTION Direction of the route
 0 = Outbound
 1 = Inbound
ROUTE_DESC Route description (e.g. "Route 1 Inbound")
TRIP_HEADSIGN Description of the destination of the route. Generally matches the digital display on the front of the bus.
CTPS_ROUTE_ID Unique long integer representation of the route and direction. Equal to 1000 * CTPS_ROUTE + DIRECTION.
The MBTABUSSTOPS_PT layer contains the following fields:
STOP_ID Unique MBTA bus stop identifier
STOP_NAME Stop location description (e.g. "Pond St opp Margaret Dr")
TOWN Name of city/town in which stop is located
TOWN_ID Numeric identifier of city/town in which stop is located

Related Tables

Two related tables are stored and distributed with the route and stop data:
  • MBTABUSROUTES_ARC_EVENTS - This table stores route events for MBTA bus routes. Each stop-to-stop route segment in the MBTA network is represented in the table by its position (from-measure, to-measure) on the route in miles. This table may be related to the bus route features on SHAPE_ID and to the bus stop point features on FROM_STOP_ID or TO_STOP_ID.
  • MBTABUSSTOPS_PT_EVENTS - This table stores point events for MBTA bus routes. Each stop on each bus route in the MBTA network is represented in the table along with its location along the route (measure) in miles. This table may be related to the bus route features on SHAPE_ID and to the bus stop points on STOP_ID.
To associate a bus stop with the route(s) it serves, MassGIS created two ArcSDE relationship classes. Each bus stop in the point layer has a unique STOP_ID, which may be related (1:Many) to STOP_ID in the MBTABUSSTOPS_PT_EVENTS table. The unique CTPS_ROUTE_ID field in MBTAROUTES_ARCS may be related (1:Many) to CTPS_ROUTE_ID in MBTABUSSTOPS_PT_EVENTS. The relationship classes MBTABUSSTOPS_PT_TO_STOP_EVENTS and MBTABUSROUTES_ARC_TO_STOP_EVENTS, respectively, establish these relates. These relationship classes are included in the file geodatabase version of the data that may be downloaded from the link at the top of this page.


The Central Transportation Planning Staff updates these data quarterly and will provide data files to MassGIS for distribution.

For the most up-to-date information please visit the MBTA's Bus Schedules & Maps page.

Last Updated 1/6/2017