Google Transit is now alive and working in 19 cities across the U.S. and in all regions of Japan. It is a transit trip planning service using those wonderful Google maps. Put in your starting and ending address and you'll get a map and directions for which bus to take just like you do when you use the Google Maps service for driving directions.
It tells/shows you how to get to your bus stop and then which bus to hop on to your destination while indicating the next few buses that will go by. You can plug in alternate dates and times if you are planning a trip in advance too. I used Google Transit to plan some trips in Seattle since I'd just visited and it worked wonderfully. And who doesn't love those nice Google maps?
There are so many cool things that you can do with Google Maps. For example, we love the WalkScore web site (How Walkable is Your Neighborhood?, July 18, 2007) that was built on the Google Maps platform. Google Transit is actually brought to us from the Google Labs.
Right now none of those 19 cities include anything in our area. WMATA's Trip Planner is very good. But it doesn't include a map. And somehow it is more fun and useful with the map of the bus route on Google. Especially when you use the hybrid version that includes the satellite map. Let's hope WMATA and the local agencies are working on this and maybe someday we people can use Google Maps to get driving directions AND plan a transit trip.
Chris Hamilton is the Commuter Services Chief for Arlington County, manager of CommuterPageBlog and a biking/Metro commuter from Rosemont in Alexandria.