What is an agency?

What is an agency?

Agency is a term that is used often across the Cal-ITP project but depending on the context of its use, it can have varying meanings when conducting an analysis.

Inconsistent use of the term agency can be confusing, so this section of the documentation seeks to help analysts determine how to translate the use of the word agency in research requests depending on the area of focus that the research request falls into.

Area of Focus

How to Identify an agency

GTFS Datasets

For both GTFS Static and GTFS Real-Time data, when trying to analyze GTFS datasets it is easiest to think of agency as “unique feed publisher”, with the exception of the combined regional feed in the Bay Area, as it is a regional reporter that publishes duplicates of other feeds that we also consume.

To identify “unique feed publishers”:

  • Decide whether customer-facing feeds or agency feeds make sense for the analysis. For data quality analyses, customer-facing is crucial; for transit planning analyses, agency subfeeds is more relevant.
  • Deduplicate feeds

GTFS-Provider-Service Relationships

In the warehouse, this is the relationship between organizations and the services they manage. An agency can be interpreted as both depending on the use case.

This is not an exhaustive list of all services managed by providers, only those that we are targeting to get into GTFS reporting.

Each record defines an organization and one of it’s services. For the most part, each service is managed by a single organization with a small number of exceptions (e.g. Solano Express, which is jointly managed by Solano and Napa). In all cases, it is best to define how you are using agency within your analyses.

Reference table: Use this table to identify provider-service relationships

  • Column: organization_name
  • Column: mobility_service

Non-GTFS Datasets

Depending on the data you are using, defining an agency can change. In most cases, an agency refers to a public entity. For analyses that include non-public entities, organization can be used as a catch-all term to include local government agencies and other entities that may not fall under this definition of agency.

Examples of agency definitions:

  • DLA Local Public Agency: “A California City, county, tribal government or other local public agency. In many instances this term is used loosely to include nonprofit organizations.”

Note: Defining your unit of analysis within your analyses — whether it be agency or organization or another term — can help clarify how you are using the term.