Google Maps Takes On Public Transit Info
If you ride some form of public transportation – be it subways, trains, or buses – you may know about Google Transit, which helps users “[c]reate your own transit trip, complete with itineraries and maps.” That service worked just fine (within a few areas), but the search engine company now plans to incorporate much more information into Google Maps and Google Earth.
“Depending on the data available for a given public transit system, Google Maps now shows the next departure times, what lines serve a specific station, and/or a link to the transit agency to get more detail,” writes Christoph Oehler on Google’s Lat Long Blog. “Try clicking on one of the little bus or tram icons on this map of Zurich, Switzerland, to see what we mean. You can also search for stations (for example ‘59th St – Columbus Circle Station, new york’).”
Yet the PR-savvy among you might realize that the “depending on the data available” phrase could act as quite a disclaimer. Oehler, a product manager for Google, assures readers, “Our transit information is acquired through a variety of means, including transit agencies, geo data companies, websites, and maps.” And as always, “We are continuously working to expand our coverage.”
Here’s the neat part about this development, though: you can probably ensure that your transit system of choice is included. “If you are interested in having this data available for your city, point your local transit agency to this website where they can learn more about how to upload their transit data,” suggests Oehler.
For still more information, you might want to check out Jeremy Faludi’s entry on WorldChanging.com. There are screenshots and explanations galore – far more than Google provides, actually – and Faludi’s own take on the revised Google Maps/Earth/Transit system. All in all, things are looking pretty good.