Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

How Google Is Remapping Public Transportation

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the eliminating-bus-stop-doubts dept.

Google 187

waderoush writes "Google wants to 'organize the world's information,' but there isn't a marketplace or a category of knowledge it can organize without remaking it in the process. A case in point: public transportation. Largely outside the media spotlight, Google has wrought a quiet revolution over the last five years in the way commuters get schedule information for local buses and trains, and the way public transit agencies communicate with their riders. GTFS and GTFS-realtime, which Google invented, have become the de facto world standards for sharing transit data, and have opened up space for a whole ecosystem of third-party transit app developers. This in-depth article looks at the history of GTFS and Google's efforts to give people information (largely via their smartphones) that can help them plan their commutes on public transportation — and, not incidentally, drive a lot less."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

i call (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118537)

BS on this load

Re:i call (-1, Redundant)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118599)

I know you're trolling, but why? Now EVERYONE I know basically uses Google instead of the agency website.

Re:i call (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119895)

Now EVERYONE I know basically uses Google instead of the agency website.

Considering the fact that there are over seven billion people on the face of the planet, and the fact that you're posting on Slashdot, that number isn't even statistical noise.

Re:i call (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120065)

Yes, but this is a stupid comment.

What does the iPhone use for maps? Google Maps. That means the vast majority of iPhone users if they're doing transit directions are using it. That's almost certainly true of Android phones. It was once true of Palm/HP phones, and it is probably still true of Blackberry's. That's just mobile. Who else has any good data on this that includes multiple transit systems in one query? Bing has some of it but it generally sucks.

The result I've seen from this is that now normal people "can" look up transit directions (they could before, but didn't).

Mandatory Warning: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39121003)

This discussion will now be directed by a Microsoft Reputation Management team. Please try to keep your comments on-topic and MS friendly.

Thenk you.

"Microsoft launches no holds barred anti-Google campaign"
http://www.bgr.com/2012/02/21/microsoft-launches-no-holds-barred-anti-google-campaign-video/ [bgr.com]

scoring a frosty (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118547)

pissssssss

Google has been trespassing. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118625)

Google trespassed where map-books like Thomasguide have not.

Google has profiled IP addresses to searched content, and even escalated non-existant privileges from other websites to misuse their shared library functions.

Google has retained affiliation with other corporations to sell unwarranted information to them, including several overseas militant groups to chase their expatriates back to America to assassinate them.

Google has repeatedly done un-competitive actions to non-competitive websites and recently the best of them ( https://ssl.scroogle.org/ [scroogle.org] ) has not yet returned to operation.

I know of a Google building near me around Newport Beach on California.

Maybe it's about time The Pee Pee Monster ( http://yppm.removed.us/index.php [removed.us] ) rises again to the challenge as did The Mad Bread Pincher...

Yours in sadness, bro'bot of the true R9k1 ( http://4chon.net/r9k/index.html [4chon.net] ).

Would be great... if it worked (5, Interesting)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118633)

After missing three or four timed-transfer connections, I've given up on Google Maps for transit.

I'm sure it works sometimes, but since they've made it impossible to check their work (they don't give you access to the schedule data) it's a hell of a lot easier just to check the schedule myself.

That said it does work okay for short bus trips, but I've already got an app on my phone that tells me when the bus is arriving base on real-time data. No need to bring Google Maps into the picture.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118723)

Well, if it's a tight connection you have to check it... which you can do.

Do you realize that it's Google that is doing it? (0, Flamebait)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118959)

Not that long ago people were lamenting loudly that Google was EVIL

To those who say Google is EVIL :

Are you sure you want to let Google do this?

Why don't you get Facebook and/or Yahoo and/or Microsoft to do this instead?

Re:Do you realize that it's Google that is doing i (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119883)

LOL

I'm including this second line because /. complained that my reply was in all caps.

Again, LOL

Re:Do you realize that it's Google that is doing i (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120475)

I thought gp was a serious comment, but then .....

Re:Do you realize that it's Google that is doing i (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120785)

That's sort of the point, fanboy. If Facebook, or Yahoo or Microsoft were doing the same things as Google they would be bashed to no end. When Google does shady things there are infinite excuses made by the fanbois.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118747)

Google maps has been better than any local transit maps I've used - not that I've used all that many. (San Luis Obispo, CA)

I'm curious whereabouts you are that your local info is easier to get online.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120073)

You do realize that the local transit map and the Google feed are the same thing right? As someone who has actually worked on this particular feed, they're both pulled from the same source. It's not like Google has anything to do with the actual feed data... they should rightly get credit for the feed specification and the medium in which it is relayed to the people. But it's the agencies that create the feeds that get uploaded to Google for use.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120341)

From that godforsaken town I'm hardly surprised. They probably spent more time congratulating each other on living in paradise than getting anything done.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (4, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118763)

That said it does work okay for short bus trips, but I've already got an app on my phone that tells me when the bus is arriving base on real-time data.

If Google Maps used realtime data, that would be amazing. They're at the point where they can aggregate multiple data sources to plan your trip. For example, traveling cross town in Los Angeles could theoretically mean:
Starting on LADOT downtown-only bus circuit (DASH)
Transferring to LADOT regular bus
Transferring to Culver CIty bus
Transferring to Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, or back to the LADOT bus.

That's 4 different bus systems just to get from downtown to the beach, and doesn't take into account the light rail/subway system, commuter heavy rail (2 different systems) or Amtrak. Each municipality and transit provider publishes schedules and routes independently. They all have independently run trip-planning tools and mobile apps. Google really is at the best point in the mix to offer a truly integrated solution that spans providers, making public transportation a NETWORK instead of scattering of independent systems.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (2, Informative)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118927)

And yet, driving your car from downtown to the beach is cheaper and more convenient...

Re:Would be great... if it worked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119585)

I doubt it, which beach is it we are taking about?

Re:Would be great... if it worked (4, Informative)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120491)

With gas prices the way they are, I'm not sure I'd buy the "cheaper" argument.

Figure that gas here in LA is $4.11. Assuming you're heading to Santa Monica beach, that's about 17 miles. So figure you'll use half to three-quarters of a gallon of gasoline to get there. Assuming you're planning on returning, you'll use 1 to 1.5 gallons of gasoline. So figure you'll spend anywhere from $4.11 to $6.17 to get to the beach. This doesn't include parking, etc.

Now I can take the "Rapid 10" Blue Bus from downtown to Santa Monica for, I'm guessing, $2.00 each way (I thought Google gave fare info, but I guess not). So figure that's $4.00 round-trip. So unless your car gets better than 34 MPG, you're spending less money taking the bus than driving a car.

As for "convenience," well, that's up to individual taste. I'd submit that driving to the beach is much more convenient for the beginning of the trip (just hop in and go versus waiting around for the bus to show up) but far less convenient at the end of trip (try to find parking versus stepping off the bus at the beach). So it sort of depends on when you want your hassle--beginning or end.

More than a 24 hour wait (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121733)

I'd submit that driving to the beach is much more convenient for the beginning of the trip (just hop in and go versus waiting around for the bus to show up)

Especially when it'd be more than a 24 hour wait because a particular city doesn't run buses at all on a given day.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (4, Interesting)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119763)

They already do that.

Check out this set of directions from Rowland Heights to Marina Del Ray [google.com] .

It uses source data from 5 agencies and combines it into one route, taking into account walking and transfer times.

Too bad the route takes 3.5 hours instead of 49 minutes driving, but that's not Google's fault.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119911)

Its is not evident from the link. What makes you think they use real time data?

Or was the point of your post was that Google aggregates data from multiple agencies, which was exactly the same as GP's point - "They're at the point where they can aggregate multiple data sources to plan your trip."

Re:Would be great... if it worked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118767)

It all depends on if the operators of the transit agency. I know some operators who only keep with the departing time at the originating station, and leave everything else to chance/traffic. Google should work with Transit agencies and ensure incentives for operators that keep the time.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (4, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118791)

After missing three or four timed-transfer connections, I've given up on Google Maps for transit.

In Perth, Australia Google Maps is more reliable then Transperths own website, not to mention the fact that Google Maps works on my phone. If you want schedule data, just select the bus stop or train station you want that data on.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118995)

Google Transit is great plus Transperth publish their GTFS feed data.
Only downside is that you cant use Google Transit on a Nokia N900 Linux phone (I keep meaning to write an app for it but I never got around to it and couldn't be bothered figuring out how to parse the GTFS feed properly)

Re:Would be great... if it worked (4, Interesting)

definate (876684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119541)

In South Australia the transit services all use Google now, and it's really accurate. I'm at uni, so I'm using it all the time, and I've never had a problem. I have friends who have done more serious bus based travel, with multiple transfers, and they've had no problem. It's made their route planning a lot easier, and they can now minimize their wait times.

I've had nothing but good experiences with the whole system.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (4, Interesting)

Craig Ringer (302899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121283)

I must second that - I rely heavily on Google Maps in Perth, and in fact it's helped me avoid needing a car for the last five years. I only recently got one to make it easier to get out of the city, go windsurfing, and get around on sundays.

The only issue I've ever had with Google Maps transit in WA has been the odd special-occasion public holiday or special event where Transperth appears to have failed to inform Google of the schedule changes. That can be annoying. On the other hand, Google Maps had perfect data about all the New Years' Eve special and adjusted services, so they're clearly getting it pushed most of the time.

I cannot possibly praise Transperth and Google enough for Google Maps Transit. It's fantastic, and it's a real shame that so few people seem to know about and use it. It was a real lifesaver when I last visited Auckland, too, as I could just use Maps instead of having to fart about with a different city's transit systems and timetables. Fantastic!

Re:Would be great... if it worked (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118823)

It would be better if every agency made their GTFS feed public, that's for sure. I never figured out why more don't do that, since it really doesn't require any additional work on the part of the outfit to post the zip file on their website somewhere.

I would encourage anyone who lives in a city who is on Google Transit but doesn't put the GTFS feed on their website to call, send email, come to transit board meetings, etc and encourage them to post the data publicly . If you live in a city where the data is already posted, create works that extend the data (or help others do so) to help make the format more useful for everyone. Even if Google stops supporting Transit in the future, the GTFS data is still invaluable for anyone who creates software that helps other transit riders get around easier.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (1)

Craig Ringer (302899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121291)

Zip file?

Give me an easily crawled listing of individual files, an rsync-able directory, or an RSS feed. Something where I don't have to constantly re-download data that *hasn't* changed along with changes.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (4, Interesting)

rykin (836525) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118843)

In my experience, the bus is never on time. However, because I am in a city, it tends to run every 10-15 minutes, so missing one bus isn't that big of a deal. Google has been nice for helping me get places in which I didn't know how or if I needed to transfer. It will give you directions such as "Ride bus 1 to this street, walk a block, then wait for bus 2". It has simplified the Public Transit process about as much as Mapquest* simplified getting from point A to point B in your car (before GPS was common). Sure, it can have errors, but more often than not, it's good.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (3, Informative)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119529)

This is similar to the NYC subway system. On weekdays for most lines, trains basically run every 5-10 minutes. Its always amusing when tourists walk up to me and ask what time the next train is scheduled to arrive. The flip side of that, of course, is the unpredictable delays due to track fires, random line work, winos pulling the emergency brake cord, express trains suddenly turning into locals, etc.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (4, Interesting)

txoof (553270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118857)

Where I live, the local bus company's web site [kolumbus.no] is terrible. It's difficult to use, forces you to fill in forms over and over again when you make changes, can't figure out where you are or where you want to go half the time and frequently has issues figuring out transfers at all. Worst of all, the bus company never seems to have current route information posted at the bus stops.

Since Google started supporting transit directions in Stavanger, Norway [g.co] , my life has been so much easier. I especially love the Android (Gingerbread) integration. I have shortcuts on my home screen that will show me the best route and next three busses from wherever I am to my home, work and down town. It's amazing.

If you regularly use public transit, it's worth your time to see if Google supports your city.

Now the only thing missing is real time route information. I can't wait until that feature comes to town. Sadly the bus drivers are rarely on time and make a sport of speeding away when they're early and you're sprinting for the bus.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (1)

Wraithlyn (133796) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119493)

Clearly you don't live in Calgary. Google Maps Transit was a godsend... forget schedule information, you needed it just to figure out an efficient ROUTE thru Calgary's masochistic spaghetti-maze of local bus loops.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119703)

Seconded, the Calgary Transit supplied system often fails to get you into the right quadrant of the city, much less to your destination.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119901)

You should see what Google has done with Nanaimo, BC. Just about everything is hooked in to Google.
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1720932,00.html

Re:Would be great... if it worked (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120179)

Living in a city that lives and falls with it's public transport system (Hong Kong - the public transport sytem here is considered one of the best in the world, if not simply the best), I had never heard of this whole Google attempt. I just tried it and it seems to work, the route that I tried I got several known-good connections.

Before I have seen bus stops appear, and bus routes. But this just doesn't work well: you can click a bus stop, see which routes call there, and see the routes on the map. A typical bus stop has easily five routes, many have 10 or more routes. Good luck figuring out which route will get you where you want to be!

Departure times and so are not an issue. There are very few buses that have a published schedule anyway: that are the few routes that run on a 15-minute or longer interval. And most ferry services have actual time tables. Several bus routes are running on a 3-minute or less interval, this means at rush hour the bus leaves the stop when the next one arrives. Literally. Boarding continues non-stop at major stops, and when the next bus arrives the first simply stops letting passengers on and leaves. You can get from most points to most other points with no more than one change, in case no direct route exists. And of course there's the train system (the busiest route has 13-coach trains running on a 2-minute interval, and barely being able to cope at rush hour), and all the minibuses serving less busy routes.

Google's route planner works well at a first glance, but doesn't provide price info. And that's also important as different solutions can easily have double price.

Re:Would be great... if it worked (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121781)

For Tri-met in Portland I find that lists the approximate time of arrival - the bus still might be slightly early or slightly late and its still best to show up a bit before if you can.

I'm kinda glad they run at all :).

Re:Would be great... if it worked (2)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121803)

Do you know what would be even greater? If public transport would actually run on schedule.

Google Transit is Awesome (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118727)

I'm a dispatcher with a small transit agency out in the Midwest on Google Transit, and I have to say its been great for us and our riders. New passengers are typically unfamiliar with locations around towns or unfamiliar with the local bus schedule, and giving them a trip planner that is already built into a familiar interface on Google sure makes life easier on them. The GTFS feed itself is also useful for external developers of programs that provide extra service to passengers, like Android or iPhone applications, or even members of the public that just want a well-documented view of exactly how the buses in a town operate. The fact that all of this is free is just icing on the cake.

A shout out to Bob Heitzman for his wonderful Excel-based tools (https://sites.google.com/site/rheitzman/) that enabled our system and others to get on to Google in the first place. Anyone out there who works for a small public transit system should check those out if you're wondering about supporting a GTFS feed. They aren't fancy, but they work well for outfits that don't have the manpower to run a full set of scheduling software.

Re:Google Transit is Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118805)

GTFS stands for Get The Fucking Schedule?

Re:Google Transit is Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118887)

Nope, it is Google The Fucking Schedule!

Re:Google Transit is Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120671)

If only. So freaking many smaller transit systems have taken to hiding their schedules and system maps under layers of (usually Google based, occasionally proprietary) trip planners and individual route maps. I do appreciate the standardization inherent in GTFS, but it desperately needs an expansion of the rendering side to show a system map in Google Maps, and display schedules in a standardized format.

36 to 60 hour layovers (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121717)

New passengers are typically unfamiliar with locations around towns or unfamiliar with the local bus schedule

How should new passengers deal with the 36 to 60 hour layovers that are common in places like Fort Wayne, Indiana? There are no buses from roughly 6 PM Saturday evening to 6 AM Monday morning, or 6 AM Tuesday morning if Sunday or Monday is a major holiday.

Smart Ride for iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118777)

(Shameless Plug)
Smart Ride has support for over 36 agencies in North America, all with GPS-based real-time arrival predictions, alerts, and other real-time data. And it's free.

http://www.codemass.com/smartride/

Re:Smart Ride for iPhone (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120111)

Only for iPhone though, yah?

GTFS? (3, Insightful)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118855)

GTFS? Get The Fucking Subway?

Re:GTFS? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119781)

Get The Fucking Schedule, i suppose.

Re:GTFS? (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121047)

Ahh yes that fits a lot better.

I'm giving up on Google Search: It doesn't work (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39118875)

Google search -- now offically SUCKS.

I ask to remove items, and it leaves them in (Usually relating to / by paid advertsiements)
I ask to look for "this quote" and it will return "That quote" (Usually before "this quote")
As previosly noted - Google is now tracking EVERYTHING.
If I want to search for p0rn at home, and "breast cancer" at work, God help me.

The Standard? (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118923)

hmm.. the standard, i would of assumed that TCIP was the standard that google is not adhering to. GTFS is interesting and good in it's own way, but it's devoid of information that's useful to transit systems, such as Run information and timepoints. Without that information it will only be a subset of the information needed.

We don't WANT to be like you... (0, Troll)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39118951)

“The biggest thing holding us back in the U.S. is land use patterns,” says Brian Ferris, a Google Transit engineer based in Zurich, Switzerland. “European cities are more compact, so public transportation dollars go a lot farther. In the U.S., huge parts of our cities were built after the automobile came to prominence. But we can’t change American cities tomorrow.

California doesn't want to change in order to be like Switzerland. What makes him think that we would? We don't see Southern California as a problem that needs to be fixed. We see it as an improvement over compacted cities.

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119297)

you may change your mind when you can no longer afford gas for your car

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119509)

Will he, or will he just buy an electric vehicle? TCO is a little bit higher I think, but not that much. Definitely cheap enough for a middle class family. Besides if the bus is easier and or cheaper than your car, I guarantee using a bike (better yet an electric bike) is even cheaper and probably just as fast considering, plus you get some exercise and hey you live in Cali, its not like you have to worry about cold weather conditions... subways are a different matter entirely.

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119765)

If he cannot afford gas, what makes you think he can afford electricity? When gas is expensive so will be electricity.

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120375)

With idiotic EPA/DOE policies for 40 years running it is, but that could change rather quickly. And it probably will for that reason.

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (3, Interesting)

ccabanne (1063778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119513)

“The biggest thing holding us back in the U.S. is land use patterns,” says Brian Ferris, a Google Transit engineer based in Zurich, Switzerland. “European cities are more compact, so public transportation dollars go a lot farther. In the U.S., huge parts of our cities were built after the automobile came to prominence. But we can’t change American cities tomorrow.

California doesn't want to change in order to be like Switzerland. What makes him think that we would? We don't see Southern California as a problem that needs to be fixed. We see it as an improvement over compacted cities.

You must not be driving the freeways here.

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (3, Insightful)

Ghjnut (1843450) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119631)

California doesn't want to change in order to be like Switzerland. What makes him think that we would? We don't see Southern California as a problem that needs to be fixed. We see it as an improvement over compacted cities.

The issue is that the United States was founded on the principal of expanding outward and populating as much territory as possible. This philosophy has proven to result in some huge drawbacks with outward expansion still financially incentivized as opposed to a focus on maintaining and supporting infrastructure. This has caused an extreme disparity in land use per person in relation to most european cities. As a result we see begin to see the core of many cities become dilapidated and unmaintained as well as a huge influx of systems to support the personal transit means of each individual that has become all but a necessity. Disregarding the impact of that many more vehicles on the roads, it becomes a lot easier for social segregations to be reinforced with no foreseeable future of remedying the gap.

I for one would like to see this discouraged as much as possible and would more than welcome alternatives to everyone securing their own means of personal transportation. I know I've digressed a bit from the topic of the article but I would say that google's attempts to make public transit more transparent and viable to someone who may have overlooked the option is a step in the right direction; even if they haven't hit the nail on the head.

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119637)

It should be noted that Brian Ferris is from the United States. He got hired by Google to do transit work as a result of his thesis [washington.edu] doing similar work for the Seattle area public transit (see OneBusAway [onebusaway.org] if you are in the Seattle area and haven't heard of it). He's not some random European complaining about the United States.

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119649)

Yes, but an engineer sees that "improvement" as a liability - increased costs in transport and infrastructure, with terrible side effects on energy efficiency.

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119669)

Sprawl is not an improvement. It contributes to obesity, poverty, lost productivity, the disenfranchisement of the young and elderly, the high cost of health care, a less vibrant economy, accidents and deaths, drug and alcohol violence, and higher stress.

You don't have to be like Zurich, but it's a good idea for you not to be like SoCal/the rest of the sprawling American cities that are bringing the country down.

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119963)

He didn't say anyone wanted to be anything, to be fair.

It's a byproduct that causes difficulty for his purpose.

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120127)

Oh, yeah, California is awesome, man: an hour to go five miles stuck in traffic. What an asinine assertion, even leaving the environment out of it. Really great design.

Re:We don't WANT to be like you... (0)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120247)

Absolutely. I despise shitty little cities where people are running over all of each other like rats in a cage. Give me Phoenix any day over Boston.

Great! Too bad there isn't any public transit ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119103)

Too bad there isn't any public transit from where I live to where I need to go. My commute in Google Transit is 10.5 hrs and 110 miles, one way, and involves 5 miles of walking (by itself not a problem) on roads with no pedestrian access, taxi cabs, 2 trains and 4 buses.

The drive in the car is about 35 miles / 35 minutes.

Public transit in the U.S. assumes that everyone goes into a major city to work, then goes out of the city to live. The public transit routes are spokes in/out of the central hub. That works for many, but in many U.S. metropolitan centers there are rings of suburbs intermixed with businesses surrounding the city (because it is expensive to live or operate a business in the city). There is generally a major highway linking these suburbs and business centers, but no public transit follows these routes.

Re:Great! Too bad there isn't any public transit . (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120157)

Too bad you live somewhere where there is no public transit you mean. First, you are oversimplifying as there are plenty of places that don't fit your in to work out to home model. Regardless though (and we can't really have a conversation about it unless you say where you are), there are areas that are built so poorly that transit cannot support them because no one would ride and routes couldn't possibly anticipate where people are going. How is that public transit's fault? That is the fault of city planners and people who choose to live in those places. Southern Jersey is a good example -- how are you going to enact sane transportation policy when everywhere is the middle of nowhere?

Re:Great! Too bad there isn't any public transit . (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121687)

Too bad you live somewhere where there is no public transit you mean.

That or too bad his situation isn't such that he can just up and move his whole family.

That is the fault of city planners and people who choose to live in those places.

Not everybody has the luxury of being free to choose where to live.

Buses US only? (3, Interesting)

Sneeka2 (782894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119205)

Somebody please tell this to the Japanese. While their bus service is decent enough, getting information about routes and timetables here is virtually impossible. All the Japanese bus company websites are still Web 0.8, there are many many private bus companies even within the same city and there's no one service that aggregates all the information.

Google Bus would be a great service here. They have already done it for trains, which works really well.

Re:Buses US only? (2)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119639)

The problem is that their schedule is printed in all these weird squiggly characters. No wonder nobody can read it !

Re:Buses US only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39121377)

Hyperdia [hyperdia.com] is extremely useful on that front.

Re:Buses US only? (1)

Sneeka2 (782894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121449)

Routes available on Hyperdia (copy&paste):

Airplane
Airport Shuttle Bus
Bullet Train (SHINKANSEN)
NOZOMI / MIZUHO / HAYABUSA (SHINKANSEN)
Limited Express
Express
Liner
Walk
Sleeper Limited Express
Sleeper Express
Ordinary Train
Japan Railway(JR)
Private Railway

Thanks for underscoring my point about buses .
Google Transit can do the above as well just fine.

Re:Buses US only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39121547)

Oh. Durr, reading comprehension. This is true.

Re:Buses US only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39121609)

I don't know what this site uses (It's Yahoo!), but all Japanese people I know use it extensively. It will do pretty much all connections for you, bus, train, walking, shinkansen, etc... (It's in Japanese though...I don't know if they have an english version)

R

Re:Buses US only? (2)

kahizonaki (1226692) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121617)

Err, I posed as AC a second ago, and forgot to post the link :) Anyways, all Japanese people I know use this site to route (mostly between train stations?), but it gives you all things including normal buses, high speed buses, shinkansen, walking, water ferries, etc. I don't know if they have an english version though... http://transit.loco.yahoo.co.jp/ [yahoo.co.jp]

Tracking (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119213)

Does it track the riders too after they've got off the bus? Whether they want to or not?

Multi-Modal Trip Planning (5, Interesting)

eepok (545733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119325)

Google Transit is not news to those of us who work in transportation. I work in Sustainable Transportation/Transportation Demand Management and my job is to get people to do (practically) anything but drive a car alone. Since I also work at a University, it's also my job to convince students not to bring cars to school (at least for the first few years) and it would be SO MUCH EASIER if I could convince Google to jump into multi-modal trip planning. Why?

Well, let's assume you're at my University and want to get somewhere 85 miles south without a car. You might be able to bus to the local train station, catch a southbound train, and then catch another bus to your final destination. However, the bus service here is contracting (sharply) due to budget constraints so a bus connection to a train will not always be an option.

I often suggest biking to the train, riding the train, and then biking to the final destination, but since Google Maps treats transit (bus/train) and biking separately, my suggestion can only go so far. It requires some rather involved planning for a novice to get from our campus to the train station by bike.

There are other options like OpenTripPlanner which, when coupled with a well-mapped OpenStreetMaps, can be an incredible way to plan multi-modal trips in addition to mapping out literally everything in an area from streets to bike lanes to sidewalks, stairs, and handicap accessible ramps... but it takes A LOT of work to perfect a local map and then to host an OpenTripPlanner server. It's relatively easy, but it's man-hour intense.

So, come on Google, pretty please.

Re:Multi-Modal Trip Planning (-1, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119659)

I work in Sustainable Transportation/Transportation Demand Management and my job is to get people to do (practically) anything but drive a car alone. Since I also work at a University

You sound liberal.

Re:Multi-Modal Trip Planning (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120057)

So?

Re:Multi-Modal Trip Planning (-1, Flamebait)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120067)

That, and lives in Ivory Tower of "Theory", and not "Reality". That is something my dad taught me when I was young, "In theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice, they are not".

Taking a car ride, via rented car and paying for gas is cheaper and faster than taking transit system to my mom's house. And by faster, I mean from 9 hours driving, to nearly 48 hours of traveling (no beds). We don't have good transportation system besides Cars and really fast trains (called Airplanes), except in a few cities (Chicago, NY/NJ, SF to name a few). And those only work well if you live or are staying in them.

Luckly, I don't live in crowded city and my daily commute is maybe 7 minutes. Oh, and by bus it would take about 2 hours and three connections to get close. I can walk to work faster than mass transit.

Re:Multi-Modal Trip Planning (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120169)

What is the point of this long rambling nonsense exactly?

Re:Multi-Modal Trip Planning (1)

Maow (620678) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120779)

What is the point of this long rambling nonsense exactly?

Apparently some people are proud of their stupidity.

It's becoming an alarming trend: see recent AAAS conference, for example.

Attacks paid for by big business are 'driving science into a dark era'

Researchers attending one of the world's major academic conferences 'are scared to death of the anti-science lobby'

Guardian link [guardian.co.uk]

Re:Multi-Modal Trip Planning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120547)

Sucks to be you, dude. It only takes me 10 minutes to walk up the stairs to my mom's house.

Re:Multi-Modal Trip Planning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120761)

I work in Sustainable Transportation/Transportation Demand Management and my job is to get people to do (practically) anything but drive a car alone. Since I also work at a University

You sound liberal.

And you sound re-fucking-tarded.

It does, but not well (1)

supergumby (141149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120605)

In some areas, Google Maps already provides multi-modal trip planning on public transportation, as long as those modes fall into that category. But it doesn't work very well. I can ask for driving directions between a city and an island which will include the ferry, but asking for public transit directions between the same two points routes me on Amtrak several hundred miles south, then various bus connections to ferries servicing various small islands before reaching a completely different ferry than the first mentioned one. Total time over twelve hours when the direct route on public transportation is about four. Clearly, their algorithms need improvement.

Re:Multi-Modal Trip Planning (2)

Craig Ringer (302899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121327)

Yes, this! Car+train, bike+train, etc are key ways to make public transport more usable and time efficient, but Maps doesn't understand them.

Maps needs to not only understand mixed journeys, but which services you can take bikes on. In Perth, Western Australia, for example you can bring a bike on the train (but not bus), except between 7am-9am and 4:30pm-6:30pm weekdays. There are also secure keycard-controlled bike lockups at stations if you want to just ride to the station. If you make use of those facilities it makes getting around a lot easier.

I usually ride my bike to the local train station, where I chuck it in a keycard-controlled lockup and hop on the train using the same keycard. Maps can't understand that I can get to the train stn in 5 mins not 20 mins, so it makes poor planning choices. This is no big deal when following regular routes or planning well ahead, but it's a real PITA for the ad-hoc "I'm here, get me there" journeys Maps is so great for.

This is a pretty minor limitation in a generally amazing application, though. I'm truly impressed it works as well as it does.

GTFS Realtime != Realtime (1)

Skinkie (815924) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119643)

Unless what any /. reader observes as realtime data, GTFS Realtime is just not realtime transit data. GTFS Realtime updates a GTFS feed with current information if a planned trip was canceled. It is in its current form not telling the actual positions of busses, their punctuality etc. If you want to look more into why realtime is not realtime, go to their usergroup and search for wave. A nice thread on why Google Wave (aka ProtoBuf combined with XMPP) does make sense here - but too complex for Google and their partners. Next to that its great that an inferior defacto presentation standard is send into the world as 'cool and amazing' but the only reason Google is pushing this is because it is simple. It is not like SIRI, NeTEx, Transmodel, etc. that every operator out there has running in their management systems. What Google did with GTFS was: lets materialize all possible data. Tell operators that their timetable generation is wrong. Let them fix timetable generation. Use timetable and a networkgraph to do some routing *advise*, not do trip planning.

poor interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119677)

I came to US from the Czech Republic, where we have used idos.cz long before Google Transit started. Even today, idos.cz has much better interface than Google Transit. For a non-stop trip the difference is small, but I find it very difficult to trust Google Transit for a trip with several connections. For example, if I have only a few minutes to make a connection, I would like to see a whole route of a bus/train so that I can guess if it could be late or not.

Drive less? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39119679)

Enough to offset their private jet fetish?

Re:Drive less? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120899)

Try, enough to offset their private jet fetish, by over a million times!

Google's problem is simple (0)

Flector (1702640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39119715)

Advertising was always evil.

GTFS opens a lot of doors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120503)

Google's offering has jelled the transit community's data formats.

I'm putting up the beta of my animated transit view soon; I'll be supporting Edmonton and Calgary, Canada initially but thanks to Google I can expand to many cities around the world almost instantly. ... too bad I'm not ready for a slashdotting or I'd put the link up here now. Maybe I'll have my beta ready later tonight.. it's close.

That's nice... (2)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120673)

I didn't know it could do this. That's because after waiting seven YEARS for my street to show up on Google Maps correctly, I've long since given up using their sodding software.

Every other mapping app has had my street listed for ages. Google Maps is the only one that still can't find my address.

Re:That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39121375)

thats because you need to go to the people who generate the google map database and not google themselves.
get it fixed by complaining here (you need to complain to both) :
http://mapreporter.navteq.com/find
http://mapinsight.teleatlas.com/mapfeedback/

Google should evaluate the routes (1)

MicroSlut (2478760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120691)

Funny this story should pop up today. I tried to take the bus yesterday. I was very impressed with the technology Google provided. Step by step and door to door instructions with timelines, bus times, bus numbers, and costs were incredibly accurate. It had me walk 6 miles, take a bus 4 miles, and then walk another mile all for a 4.1 mile trip. Cost by bus = $3.50. Cost by car = $2.85. I planned on walking but I ended up getting a ride. Too bad public transportation is such bullshit. If they would trash the Sprinter (train in San Diego) and make it a bike path I would ride my bike everywhere. Maybe start a rickshaw service. The streets are not a safe place to ride a bike. Google should evaluate the routes instead of reporting how badly they are planned.

Google Transit + Android = Heaven (1)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 2 years ago | (#39120917)

I recently moved to the Bay Area, and when I arrived I didn't have a car for about two weeks. With my android tablet I've been able to navigate all around San Jose and San Francisco (and in-between) easily. Rather than needing to plan my trip ahead of time I would just look up places and then navigate to them. It worked out great. Of course, it helps to have a useful public transit system.

Transport in (for) London. (1)

micronicos (344307) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121069)

There has been a quiet revolution in real-time public transport information in London (UK) also.

Transport for London has equipped all buses with real-time GPS and this info is available via web and SMS.

Apparently they are looking for third-party developers to use their APIs but I've not seen anything yet.

Here's how to find when the next bus is coming:
          http://countdown.tfl.gov.uk/#/ [tfl.gov.uk]

Since most ticketing is now electronic (the Oyster card system) there is also live info an nearly all the millions of passengers; at the Transport Museum they have some displays showing this off.

NextBus is real-time, and better (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121263)

NextBus [nextbus.com] has been providing real-time bus data for years, and doing it better than Google. NextBus did all the hard work to make this work - they developed the position-reporting boxes that go on buses over a decade ago, got transit systems to adopt their technology, and developed a prediction system that figures out when the next bus will show up, based on live data and history. They even put signs in bus shelters that tell when the next bus will arrive.

There was substantial opposition in the transit industry at first. Some transit agencies didn't want accurate data on their operation publicly available. Some of them still don't. But the ones that do find it useful. The transit agency gets all the bus data and can evaluate how their operation is working.

Then some clown writes an article as if Google invented the technology. This is more like the old MIcrosoft tactic of "embrace, extend, devour".

What Happen to Orlando and GTFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39121577)

I find it odd that Google Transit is not available in one of the most visited cities in the US, Orlando.
Wait, I know why, the Mouse wants everyone visiting to us their transportation service, for a "small" fee, screw the locals that want or need to use public transit.

If you need proof that Disney runs local and state government first lets look at the Light Rail system that took years longer to start building due to Disney condemning the project for allowing a stop being place on Disney property but also abjection to a stop being to close to the other theme parks in Orlando. Case in point #2; Disney abjection to the High Speed Rail system linking Orlando, Tampa and Miami Airports with stops in between but non near Disney. Case #3 It took Disney 20 years to allow Lynx (the local bus system) on Disney property, even for it's employees. When Disney decided to allow Lynx on property, Disney only let them have 1 bus stop for then 3 parks it took another 15 years for to get stops at all the parks.

Yes, I'm a long time cast member/employee of Disney in Orlando.

Come on Google we need you here, too.

So glad they came up with GTFS (1)

beachdog (690633) | more than 2 years ago | (#39121679)

I have been writing a blog advocating changing the transportation system. The blog gets zero comments and it has been a very lonely writing experience. And every day I dwell on the irony that I am stuck driving an energy wasting car 12,000 miles per year and I am trying to develop the ideas for a low energy low CO2 reorganization.

So I see the General Transportation File System as a brilliant data structure that makes an expanded world of transportation solutions. The late bus update schemes are interesting problems that can be worked out. I had noticed the bus scheduling application in Google Maps but I wasn't able to figure out how to write programs that accessed that data, and I wasn't able to prototype a data structure like it.

I think the GTFS should be enhanced by using the electronic bridge toll sensor devices in cars to make transportation node maps for people commuting. Suppose you set up a bridge toll sensor at the entrance to a Junior College Campus with 2000 cars commuting daily. If you could get 1/3 of the commuters to pick up two students on the way to school...you could cut the gross CO2 emissions by about 50%.

  What a great benefit... use existing transportation technology and get CO2 emission reductions of substantial scale with no capital investment.

http://lessco2essay.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39121761)

Humans rely on an advertising company to organize their public transport? That's it. I'm heading back to Mars. I've seen enough.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?