There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Google Maps and Google Transit all in one

So I was wandering around Google Maps, minding my own business. Well, actually I was looking for a business that recycles computer printers and monitors. One location was Fulton and Arden Way and I wanted to see if I recognized the location.

I'm looking at the hybrid map -- the aerial photo with the street names overlayed -- and I notice little blue bus stop icons.

Huh? Bus stop icons?

OK. This is cool.

Now, I wouldn't take the icons literally. The northbound stop on Fulton isn't really in the center of the street. And the icons don't work at all resolutions. If you get too close to the ground or too far away they disappear.

But the real magic comes when you click on one of the icons. Up pops a list of the next time a bus is scheduled to depart this location.

This is real cool.

So I then went to Watt and El Camino to see what the map can do with a stop served by more than one bus. And, sure enough, when you click on the icon you get the times for all of the buses that stop there.


You can even do the same thing with light rail stops. Here's the 23rd Street stop on the inbound side.


Below is an animated image showing how Google Maps and Google Transit illustrate the 65th Street transit center bus stop.




This, of course, only works if you are on the corner with your wireless PDA or in a nearby office wondering about the bus schedule. For trip planning, go to google.com/transit. Enter the starting address (2100 Q -- you don't need street or avenue) or intersection (21 & Q format) and sacramento (or Fair Oaks, etc.) and the destination address and city. You can set the arrival or departure time. The default is departing soon after the current time.

Assuming all went well and Google Transit found the addresses, you'll see several options, including a handy link to find out how to drive to the same location.

For my comparison of Sacramento Regional Transit's Web scheduling service and Google Transit, see this post.

7 comments:

Roger Thorn said...

John,
I just wanted to make note that it took a significant amount of work by RT staff (IT & Scheduling) in coordination with Google to make this happen. We're very pleased you're enjoying the service, and hope it continues to prove valuable to you. We're working on a number of new 'information' based services to help our customers use our system more easily and effectively. Look for more 'cool' things to come...

Roger Thorn
Director of IT/ITS
Sacramento Regional Transit

Ray said...

Whose arm can we twist at Google, RT, and SACOG to get the hinterlands (read Roseville, Placer Co., Folsom, Yolo, Elk Grove) into the local database?

Roger Thorn said...

John,
I neglected to mention that RT, in coordination with SACOG, is working with Roseville Transit, YoloBus, UniTrans, and Elk Grove Transit to get their data up on Google Transit as well. RT will be the 'trip planning service aggregator' for all of the agencies in the Sacramento area. This should provide a more seamless trip planning service for the entire Sacramento area. Look for more 'Sac area' service on Google in the very near future.

Roger Thorn
Director of IT/ITS
Sacramento Regional Transit

John said...

I am very happy to hear that RT is actively working with Google and I'm especially hopeful that something regionwide is in the works.

This sort of work -- making it easier to find info about routes and visualize choices -- is what is needed to get more people to choose to ride transit.

Ray said...

What John said. :-)

Jim said...

Roger

Please include El Dorado Transit & Caltrain. There are a whole lot of us the use there services.

Jim

Sac Regional Transit said...

El Dorado Transit is on the list. Caltrain (along with BART and VTA) are already on Google. If you mean Amtrak Capitol Corridor, they are also on the list. -Tom