Anton Sarukhanov

Full-Stack Developer


A real-time bus map powered by Python, SQLAlchemy, Flask, Celery and Leaflet.

Three years ago, I made a real-time map of Rutgers buses as a side project. It was a messy PHP script which grabbed data from the NextBus API, and displayed it on a Leaflet map. That map worked nicely, but the code was an embarrassment. I decided to try again, and re-wrote it.

There's an instance for Rutgers buses at, but this version actually supports all Nextbus-tracked bus agencies. Just set a config parameter!

Tech Stack🔗

PyBusMap is written in Python 3. It uses a lightweight web framework called Flask for the HTTP stuff, the SQLAlchemy ORM, and PostgreSQL. Celery manages background tasks.


The goal was to take data from the NextBus API Feed, store it in a database, and display it on a map. I wanted the database cache for two reasons:

  1. I can record historic data for future data science projects.
  2. The NextBus data has tons of quirks. Normalizing it server-side and storing the result allows for multiple front-ends (a mobile app?) without re-writing the normalization code each time.

Being familiar with SQLAlchemy, I was excited to try it out on a clean-slate project. I used Flask because it provides URL routing, templating, and a slew of other features without getting in my way.

Celery is used here to sync new data from NextBus on a schedule. It kicks off a data update job every few seconds for vehicle locations and predictions, and once a day for route and stop information.

Some data has to be fetched with large batches of requests. These are done asynchronously (using requests-futures).


PyBusMap running, in development.

The object models are defined in Logic for interfacing with NextBus is in There are three entry points:

  • uses Flask to serve the user-facing webpage with the map, as well as the AJAX endpoint providing real-time data.
  • is where the Celery tasks are called from - these use the NextBus logic to populate the database.
  • In addition to these, has a few functions which can be used from the command line to initially populate the database, watch the Nextbus API quota usage, and more.


I have a few things I'd like to add to PyBusMap, such as routing (building the quickest route to a destination and providing directions).

Here's the map in action. Or go see the full version.