Have you heard of Google Transit, a feature of Google Maps that began in October of 2007 and now covers 445 cities worldwide? Google Transit helps you get around town using the “Get Directions” feature of Google Maps and the option to use public transit.
Valley Metro has been working with the 14 member cities of the Regional Public Transit Association (RPTA) to bring this feature to Valley residents. We’ve covered a lot of ground in the testing phase, but it’s a big Valley with a lot of transit routes to verify so we’re not yet ready to introduce it for use. Here’s a little more about what Google Transit will do once it’s online (using a test account set up for us by Google): Like any trip using Google Maps, I input my origin and destination. In this case I want to leave the Valley Metro offices to go to the Phoenix Zoo. I’ve expanded the options section to tell Google I want to leave the office at 10:00 am, and I want to use public transit.
When I click on “Get Directions” the map shows me public transit options, and I can click on the bus icon to get more information on the route selected.
The text on the left side of the Google Transit webpage gives me the specifics of the trip, and shows multiple transit options if they are available. Note that all Valley Metro Transit Book information is uploaded to Google Transit – the transit feature knows that a Route 3 bus is scheduled to depart Central station at 10:14, and should arrive at the Phoenix Zoo at 10:47 am.
More complex trips for Google Transit may involve taking an Express Bus or RAPID to downtown, connecting to METRO Light Rail, and then walking to your final destination. Add to that the comprehensive time schedules involved with each transit route, and you can see we’ve got our hands full. It takes careful coordination to get all of the correct information in the right format to Google so that residents can use an accurate online transit service. Once the service is online, our Share The Ride users can see their Google Transit options with just one click. Their origin and destination information is already saved to their profile, along with their commuting schedule. A “Show Transit” button will change their commute map into a Google Transit map, as shown below in a demonstration account.
ShareTheRide users can then find carpool, vanpool and transit options for their commute all in one place, using one account. When can you see, test and travel around the Valley using Google Transit? We hope to have it ready by the end of April, and we’re working closely with transit agencies around the Valley to make that happen. We know Google Transit will help both residents and tourists visit all the great destinations the Valley has to offer.