OneBusAway began in 2008 as a graduate student project by Brian Ferris and Kari Watkins at the University of Washington, and evolved to become the topic of both of their PhD dissertations (Brian and Kari).

OneBusAway began with the simple desire to improve the daily commute in the Puget Sound region by providing real-time transit information, and has since grown into an open source project with an active community around the world.  OneBusAway has also made possible a growing body of research that examines the impacts of real-time traveler information on the attitudes and behavior of transit customers.

OneBusAway has been enhanced by contributions from many agencies, foundations, and individuals, including the National Science Foundation, the Bullitt Foundation, Nokia ResearchSound Transit (along with King County Metro and Pierce Transit), the New York MTA, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), the USDOT Eisenhower program, TransNOW, the National Center for Transit Research, the National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management, GVU Center, and the Institute for People and Technology.