Thursday, May 21, 2009

Using Google Transit on Google Maps for Mobile

Lack of information is a barrier to using transit. To go somewhere, you have to know how to get there. In a car, you have maps and potentially a GPS device. For transit in LA, you have Trip Planner, time tables, and a stylish, but not geographically representative, map of routes and lines. These resources are hard for a visitor or first time transit rider to find, nonetheless figure out in a little over an hour.

Luckily, in San Francisco , BART and Muni are on Google Transit. While I was up there last weekend, I documented an hour of using my Blackberry 8820 with GPS, and Google Transit on Google Maps for Mobile to navigate the city.

I had some time to kill, so I decided to get some Dim Sum in Chinatown. I'm unfamiliar with San Francisco, so I used Yelp, an online review site, to find a good place to go. I went to their mobile site and searched for "dim sum" in Chinatown, San Francisco, CA. In the first page of results, I found a place with 4 stars called Delicious Dim Sum, which was what I was looking for.

I then searched for "Delicious Dim Sum" on Google Maps for Mobile and found out how to get there using transit. There was a bus departing from two blocks away in just a few minutes.

Google Transit showed me how to walk there:

What the bus stop looked like:

And what time the bus was leaving:

I hopped on the 9X to go to Chinatown.

While I was in transit, my Cousin sent me a text telling me that he and his brother would be grabbing beers before the Giants game near AT&T Park. I told them I'd be there around 6.

I hopped off the bus in Chinatown and walked about a block to Delicious Dim Sum.

And it was delicious:

While eating the pork bun, I searched for the 21st Amendment Brewery on Google Maps for Mobile and found transit directions to get there. I had to walk a few blocks down Jackson Street to get to the stop.

When I got to the stop, Muni's next bus sign not only let me know how long I would be waiting

but also that Muni was subject to state cuts to transit operating funds and what I could do to learn more.

I got on the bus, and had about 20 minutes in transit, so I used my blackbery to update my facebook status

and check the news back home.

I was also able to follow my progress along the route:

(I'm at the blue dot, the route is the blue line, green diamond is beginning, red diamond is destination, orange diamonds are embarkation and disembarkation)

When I got off the bus I had a short walk:

and then I grabbed a beer with my cousins:

I did all of this in about an hour and 15 minutes. I was unfamiliar with the system (I event tried to use my declining balance BART ticket on Muni), but Google Transit made it easy to figure out.

Want experiences like this in LA? Join the effort to get Metro and the munis on Google Transit by joinining the Los Angeles Wants Google Transit Facebook group.


Sirinya said...

This is awesome!!!

msilin said...

Wow. Hurry up Metro!!!