December 8, 2005 7:28 AM PST

Google takes the bus

Google has debuted a test version of a service that tries to map out the most direct route for public-transportation users.

Google's transit trip planner, launched Wednesday, is currently limited to Portland, Ore., but may eventually launch on a global scale, according to its Web site.

Although Google's transit trip planner is not integrated into its local-search feature, it provides people with information that could dovetail into its local-search efforts. Google and competitors, such as Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN, are jumping into local search and mining the lucrative local-advertising market.

The Google trip planner asks people to enter their preferred itinerary, such as location of departure and arrival, as well as dates and time of travel. The site then gleans all available information on public-transportation schedules to produce a trip planner.

The trip planner provides an estimated walking time to catch the nearest form of transportation on the desired route, which transit line to catch, as well as estimated traveling time. The trip planner also provides the estimated cost for using public transportation.

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Google "transit"
Anyone who has ridden Portland TriMet system will know that all Google is doing is feeding you information from Trimet's own web page.

At first, I was surprised to see Portland as Google's test city, but as I read further, I realized they are adding nothing to an already existing system. Except for ads.
Posted by Anagrama.v1 (4 comments )
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Agreed
I remember first seeing a similar service in the DC metro area (WMATA) over five years ago. I haven't checked out the new Google service yet, but I can't imagine that it would offer any more information than the local transit agency (511.org in the bay area, even naldo.de where i live now)?
Posted by jonkjonk (19 comments )
Link Flag
Agreed -- Much Ado About Literally Nothing
Really stupid to start with an agency that is already doing what they are offering, and has done it for many years to boot. (They used to have a program you could get and run on a DOS PC, prior to the wide expansion of the Internet.)
Posted by talmy (74 comments )
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Except, oh...
Google now has the TriMet route database and integrated the TriMet transit routes into their MAP. TriMet.org doesn't map out your route, just a start point map and an end point map, with the text directions. Is it possible you don't know the difference?

Also, there's no way this would be scraped - that doesn't even make sense. TriMet probably gave all the data to Google so Google could figure out how to add value, first with this pilot and later with other cities -- and they have, by MAPPING OUT THE ROUTE.

But nice try! Now run along and whine about something you understand.
Posted by heatmiser (1 comment )
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Do Google invented something?
Apple did not invent the mp3 player but started a revolution
(including the "podcast; word of the year" side effect).

Google did not invent search or advertising but they plan to be
able to search anything/anywhere... and place some (paid) ads
in the results.

Maybe they began with a city with (already) good information
but it is possible that they will build up for almost every city
(wait... M$ is announcing a copycat that will integrate with
Long... ejem... Vista).

And --maybe-- Google will make more Americans use public
transportation reducing oil dependency, global warming, heart
attacks (thru walking)...
Posted by lmasanti (293 comments )
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about TIME
How many times have I thought that Google needed to "invent" this kind of a search? It's an obvious idea, but I'm glad to see it finally being implemented. I'm not a "h8r". I like the Google.

(As for "Do Google invented something?", I don't know why my post is a response to this. As much as I appreciate snarky and inadequately thought-out America-attacks as the next American, I don't really have any comment to offer other than "conjugate" and maybe re-examine the logic that taking a bus instead of driving a car is a suitable form of exercise...?)
Posted by H A R L O (9 comments )
Link Flag
?
I don't think that by offering public transit information, Google will account for an increase in in it's daily use.

If it does, than at least SOMETHING meaningful would come from it.
Posted by Anagrama.v1 (4 comments )
Link Flag
Fragmented Offerings hurt overall credibility
I have to say: Google's massive number of undertakings with partial/beta/fragmented functionality is starting to get a little weird from a business case standpoint. As a shareholder, I'd be asking "Is Google Transit the best of use of Google's resources when so many other google projects/properties are in perpetual beta?"

Also, how much use of this would google really expect? What percentage of public transit use is regular/repeated use of the same route (commuting to work, for example) compared to the type of use that would require a tool like Google transit? Does anyone research the business case fundamentals of things like this before they're developed? Or is the suggestion of a "business case" anti-creativity?
Posted by dreadsword (17 comments )
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Should they try this in Los Angeles too?
I heard they started this service in Los Angeles too, but I'm still waiting. And waiting...
Posted by charlize123 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
HopStop.com is already doing this
Check out www.Hopstop.com

the company is already doing this in new york city.

MJ
Posted by milesmont (1 comment )
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Google Too Big For Their Britches
I'm sitting in a cafe in San Francisco using Goggle's free WiFi. Every site I go to pops right up EXCEPT Yahoo, which just crawls. I get time-outs trying to connect to Yahoo Mail, both through the web and Messenger. Is this the kind of immaturity we have to look forward to as Google becomes the 800 lb. gorilla?
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
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Missing the big picture
Ok so Google is being semi-flamed for "copying" data from other sources like TriMet with this capability. I think people are missing the entire point here. This is really just the beginning of an effort to Centralize within the Google list of offerings a resource for Public Transportation. I would EXPECT them to work with the existing systems and data that the local transportation authorities already have in place to make it work better. If anyone thinks that Google should go out and get bus schedules and map the routes for themselves, then I think a career in politics may be a good change for you.
Posted by RNebular (1 comment )
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