OpenTripPlanner Joins Software Freedom Conservancy

By Andrew Byrd 22 Nov 2013

Today, OpenTripPlanner becomes Software Freedom Conservancy's thirty-first member project. OpenTripPlanner joins a diverse group of member projects who all call Conservancy their non-profit corporate home. Conservancy is a non-profit public charity that provides a range of financial and administrative services to member projects that develop Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS). Conservancy’s assistance allows software developers and documenters to focus on those activities exclusively.

By joining Conservancy, OpenTripPlanner obtains the benefits of a formal non-profit organizational structure while keeping the project focused on software development and documentation. Joining Conservancy allows projects to collect donations, hold assets, and provide some liability protection for their lead developers’ project-related activities. Software Freedom Conservancy, Inc. is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, incorporated in New York State.

The OpenTripPlanner project began in 2009, and for the following three years development was coordinated and funded by New York nonprofit OpenPlans. In late 2012 OpenPlans decided to refocus on its core work in advocacy and journalism, ending its work on transportation software. At this point most of the project’s initial targets had been met. The beta release of TriMet’s OTP-based regional trip planner was underway, and OTP was mature enough to spin off as an independent project. In early 2013, members of the OpenPlans transportation technology team and Integrated Transport Planning in the UK created Conveyal, an open data and open source focused transportation consultancy that has carried on the work we began together at OpenPlans. Conveyal continues to support OpenTripPlanner development as well as the TriMet OTP deployment, which is currently approaching a stable 1.0 release.

Since the core OTP developers were no longer employed by OpenPlans, we sought to transition ownership of OTP copyrights and other intangibles to another organization that specialized in legal and organizational assistance for open source projects. There are several organisations (called ‘fiscal sponsors’ in the United States) which have this role. OTP applied to the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC). SFC approved OpenTripPlanner’s request for membership, and a Project Leadership Committee (PLC) was formed including the most active OTP contributors around the world.

The application process is now complete, and on November 22, 2013 SFC announced that OpenTripPlanner is officially a member project. The main OpenTripPlanner code repository has been moved from the OpenPlans account to an independent OpenTripPlanner organization account on Github.