Systems Administrator - Transit Data

Boston, MA /
Customer Technology – Engineering /
At the Customer Technology Department (CTD), our mission is to apply modern principles of research, design, and technology to make our transit system easy for all riders to use. Effective and equitable public transit is essential to the social, economic, and environmental progress of Greater Boston.
 
The MBTA Customer Technology team is working to transform how people get around the Boston area.
 
We are a team of designers, engineers, product and content specialists charged with bringing novel ideas, modern standards and a user-centered approach to technology at the T. As the MBTA works to reinvent itself, we have a rare opportunity to craft the future of transportation for Boston and communities all around Eastern Massachusetts, as well as pioneer innovations for other transit agencies around the country.
 
Do you want to improve the daily transportation experience for 4.7 million people in the Boston region? Ready for the challenge? Then read on.

The MBTA has the country’s leading rider-facing transit data team, which publishes the static and real-time data that MBTA riders use to learn about service on mbta.com, systemwide digital signage, and on third-party apps like Google Maps. Our goal is to provide MBTA riders with the most accurate data possible about service—this includes schedules, real-time arrival predictions, real-time crowding updates, and upcoming disruption alerts. 
 
To do this, we manage industry-standard feeds such as GTFS, GTFS-RT, as well as a GTFS-based JSON API. We are constantly pushing these specifications ahead and contributing our work back to the community, such as when we became the largest US transit agency to publish real-time bus crowding information in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the hood, we and our internal partners create this data through a combination of vendor systems (e.g., scheduling software, CAD/AVL, signal system data), sophisticated in-house middleware, and close person-to-person collaboration with our colleagues in Plans & Schedules and other MBTA departments.   

About this position:

    • As the Transit Data Sysadmin, you will play a central role in keeping our riders informed when they need that information most. You will help ensure that our rider-facing data reflects the latest schedules and information about upcoming disruptions like rail-replacement shuttles or major detours. You will be part of our Transit Realtime & Communications (TRC) team and work with software engineers and other staff to learn about, use, and maintain our real-time APIs, middleware applications, and leading in-house tools for managing GTFS. On some days you may be pushing code commits to our software repositories and answering a third-party developers question about our API. On another day you might be working with our Operations colleagues to keep tabs on a complex shuttle diversion while crews work on the Red Line tracks.  

Principal duties and responsibilities:

    • Support and administer the MBTA’s real-time data feeds, which include static specs like GTFS, real-time feeds like GTFS-RT, and our JSON API. 
    • With guidance from the Transit Data Program Manager, deploy content updates – including quarterly schedule changes but also more-frequent updates due to planned disruptions or changes to station layouts – to our real-time data feeds using our in-house GUI and command-line tools.  
    • Coordinate with our in-house development team to implement new and evolving transit data standards in our MBTA feeds (e.g., GTFS-Fares, GTFS-Service Changes) 
    • Coordinate with our in-house development team to support and perform routine updates to MBTA-developed tools underlying these data feeds.  
    • Help other CTD teams and third-party developers understand, use, and troubleshoot our data feeds and transit data generally.  
    • Develop an understanding of transit operations and transit data at the MBTA, and act as a resource for other team members. 
    • Identify any vendor issues with systems, raise these issues with the vendor, and monitor/escalate as needed in coordination with the Transit Tech Program Manager.  
    • Create documentation and runbooks as needed to help other MBTA staff use our tools. 
    • Develop and execute procedures for maintenance, security, and DevOps incidents in collaboration with other CTD Engineering staff . 
    • Work with our hardware maintenance vendors and MBTA colleagues to troubleshoot infrastructure issues (e.g., network connectivity, upstream vendor issues) as needed. 
    • Protect the data security and privacy of the MBTA and its riders 
    • Respond to each inquiry, whether from a customer, vendor or co-worker in a courteous and professional manner. 
    • While we will not ask you to work more than 40 hours per week, we may occasionally ask you to be available on an evening or weekend to deploy transit data changes in response to a quickly-changing transit operations situation (e.g., planned track work that must be extended) 

This job requires:

    • Technical familiarity: While you won’t be writing much code, you should be familiar with software configuration, APIs, and be somewhat conformable with command-line tools. 
    • Familiarity with transit operations: Our data feeds are the translation layer between the front-line realities of running a transit system and the structured data required by apps and other technology tools. You will need to be familiar with transit scheduling and operations concepts so you understand their implications for our tech systems. 
    • Attention to detail:Our riders expect and deserve accurate information about their trips. This position requires empathy for our users and attention to the small details that may end up mattering quite a lot for an individual rider’s experience.  

What we're looking for:

    • Although we're mostly interested in your ability to do the work, here are some guidelines on the capabilities and experience we think might be most suited for this role. Please keep in mind that the experience guidelines are advisory, and not required. 

    • Approximately 2 or more years of experience in technology, transportation operations, scheduling/planning, customer service, or a related industry.  
    • Effective organizational, analytical, multi-tasking, time management and documentation skills. 
    • Experience working in an agile development environment. 
    • Experience using online collaboration tools (e.g. Slack, Asana, etc.) 
    • Experience with git and markdown 
    • Working knowledge of AWS services 
    • Working knowledge of SQL queries 
    • Understanding of software development lifecycle 
    • Experience with incident management processes 
    • Exceptional attention to detail 
    • Excellent customer service and conflict resolution skills 
    • Excellent oral and written communication skills, and the ability to translate both for different audiences 
    • Familiarity with the MBTA transit system as a rider 
    • Familiarity with, or experience in, the communities served by the MBTA 
    • Nice-to-have: Experience working in the transportation industry, the public sector, or on technology projects. 

Minimum education:

    • Formal education in transportation planning, public policy, system administration, computer science, engineering, or another field you can make a case for (This could be a college degree, a bootcamp, a certificate program, or something else entirely). 

Location:

    • This role can be either hybrid or remote. 
    • Unfortunately, we are unable to hire candidates who would perform their work in Washington DC, Connecticut, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico.
Compensation:

Pay rate range is $62 - $79 per hour (W-2), up to 1880 hours per year.

This is a full-time hourly position within the Customer Technology Department at the MBTA. We work with payroll vendors that offer benefits such as pre-taxed health insurance, 401k options, and paid sick time.

Vaccination:

It is the policy of the Commonwealth that all executive department employees shall be required to demonstrate they have received COVID-19 vaccination and maintain full COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of continuing employment. Read the executive order and press release.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:

CTD is dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive environment—it’s essential to the work we do. In order to effectively partner with MBTA departments and do our best work for riders, our team must reflect the wide variety of people who use the MBTA’s services. We welcome people with different strengths, experiences, and backgrounds who share a passion for improving people's lives. Our team is deeply committed to diversity, inclusion, and continual learning. We strive to foster an environment where each individual is valued, feels a sense of belonging, and is welcomed to bring their best self to work.

Here at CTD, we provide equal opportunity for all employees and applicants. We recruit, hire, train, promote, compensate, and manage all personnel without regard to race, color, national origin, cultural identification or expression, socioeconomic background, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, family status, marital status, learning style, neurodiversity, genetics, disability, age, veteran status, or any other non-merit based or legally protected grounds. 

Research has shown that women and people of color are less likely to apply for roles unless they believe they meet all qualifications. We strongly encourage candidates from marginalized groups to apply, even if you don't believe you meet every one of the job qualifications listed. We’re committed to maximizing the diversity of our team and want to hear from anyone who is passionate about our efforts and interested in supporting our work for riders.