Sample Privacy Policy

OneBusAway – Sample Regional Privacy Policy

This page is a copy of the OneBusAway privacy policy for the original Puget Sound deployment during the time it was operated by the University of Washington.  It thus includes information about both OneBusAway as a service and as a research project. Please feel free to adapt it in writing other regional privacy policies, and consult other current regional policies for additional examples.


We value your privacy, so we want to be explicit about what kind of personal information is involved when you interact with OneBusAway. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let us know.

We’re first going to describe some general principles behind the privacy policy, and then describe the specific details of what information is used and collected, how long it is kept, and provisions for opting out.

General Principles

OneBusAway is both a research project at University of Washington and a service provided to transit users throughout the Puget Sound region. Here are the general principles that guide our privacy

Access Statistics

This pertains to OneBusAway as a research project. We want to gather information about such things as how many different people use OneBusAway, and how often they use it and in what part of the region, to both tell us how our tools and our transit systems are being used and to help improve the usability of OneBusAway. Our goal for information of this kind is to only store aggregate, non-personally-identifiable information. However, to gather this aggregate information accurately, we do need to store a small amount of personally identifying information for a limited time (less than 24 hours), so that for example we can count the number of unique users of the system. We don’t proactively collect other data for research purposes.

Specific research projects

We may invite some OneBusAway users to participate in specific research projects in which we gather more detailed information. However, participation in any such study will be voluntary and we will always ask your permission before enrolling you. We will follow all the standard Human Subjects protocols for such a study, including requesting your informed consent.

Personal settings

This pertains to OneBusAway as a service.  OneBusAway can give you more useful, personalized information if it can associate this information with your account. For example, it can keep track of your bookmarks for frequently used stops, or your default search location. Any such information that is personally identifiable will only be shown to you alone (in the form of bookmarks, search areas, and so forth).  This information is stored for an indefinite length of time.  However, you can delete this
information at any time, and can opt out entirely from having it stored.

Session information

This also pertains to OneBusAway as a service. In the course of a single session with OneBusAway, the system stores a variety of information necessary for its functioning. For example, we keep track of your last requested stop so that we can quickly present it again at your request. This information is deleted as soon as the session ends.

Specific Details

Access Statistics

When you use any of the OneBusAway tools, your interactions with the site produce a lot of personally sensitive information. Requesting information for a particular bus stop, for example, provides a good indication of where you are at the time of the request. We securely and temporarily log this interaction
data for no more than 24 hours before it is permanently deleted. In addition to specific interaction logs, we also keep a count of the total number of unique users of our tools over the course of the week.

As noted above, interaction and usage data gives us important information about how our tools and our transit systems are being used and helps us improve the usability of OneBusAway.

Personal Settings

As noted above, OneBusAway can give you more useful, personalized information, such as your default search location or bookmarked stops, if it can associate this information with you. We store these
personal settings in a secure database and use this information only to power the various OneBusAway interface, indexed either by a cookie or by your phone’s caller ID. In addition, the app phone
interfaces (iPhone, Androids) may also store personal settings information directly on the phone.

Default Search Location

When you use the web, phone, and SMS interfaces, we associate a default search location with your account. The default search location is typically at a zip-code level of granularity.  We use the default search location to return search results appropriate to your area, especially as more transit agencies are added to OneBusAway.  For example, when searching for “route 10”, your default search location helps us decide if we should tell you about the Route 10 in Seattle, or the Route 10 in Tacoma.


In the phone and SMS interface, we allow users to bookmark their frequently accessed stops. We store this information so that users don’t have to remember the stop numbers for their favorite stops, but users should also be aware that stop bookmarks provide hints to the places they frequently visit.

Most-recently accessed stop

We store the most-recently accessed stop for each user so that the user can quickly access that stop again when checking through the phone and SMS interface.

Controlling Your Personal Information

OneBusAway provides ways of both clearing and opt-ing out completely of the storage of personal settings. Instructions for each app are forthcoming.