GGT and Marin Transit are on Google Maps

Well, looks like the rumors were true: Golden Gate Transit and Marin Transit (MT/GGT) have made it onto Google Maps at last.  The news broke on Twitter when fellow blogger Matt Nelson of California Streets let me know:

While the extremely observant would have picked up the select comments and tweets that have been made about this, for the most part the efforts have gone unnoticed and unadvertised.  The chatter was that MT/GGT had wanted to get onto Google Maps last year, but some of the more complicated and infrequent routes, such as school buses that run only on Wednesdays, weren’t converting effectively into the system.  The trouble pushed back the roll-out until now.

There are a few glaring oddities in this roll-out.  As of publish time, neither Marin Transit nor Golden Gate Transit have made a press statement on the subject.  You’d think that their communications departments would be incredibly excited to get this out to the public.  Perhaps, with the Doyle Drive closure and rerouting through the city this weekend, they’d rather not get people excited to use a system that isn’t going to give good information until Monday.

As well, the MT shuttles, either the ones to West Marin or the ones around East Marin, seem to be missing from Google Maps.  Only routes operated by GGT are shown.  It seems odd that such a large part of our already anemic transit system would be left out, but perhaps this will be rolled out at a future date.

Google Maps uses what’s called the General Transit Feed Specification, or GTFS, which is really just a specially formatted spreadsheet of all the routes, stops, and timetables in the system.  Google works with transit agencies to get the GTFS working, but generally it’s up to the individual agency to complete its own project.

Google Maps does have other bells and whistles for transit.  First, it can mark down station locations.  I’m not sure why MT/GGT’s stops aren’t visible considering that the locations are already in the GTFS file.  Second, it can mark down the exact routing of lines that serve the stop.  If you click on a BART station, you’ll see lines pop up of the entire system, and the lines that serve the station will be in bold.  Third, it can do real-time arrival information.  Not many agencies utilize that because of technical and often proprietary reasons.  However, a planner let slip to me that the Hub was slated for a real-time arrival clock in the next year or so, so perhaps real-time data is coming.  This bodes all kinds of good.

In any case, this is a huge boon to Marin’s transit riders.  Tourists will be able to plot their ride from Fisherman’s Wharf to Fairfax if they wanted to and know when to get back.  Open data like this will also be useful for people looking for a new place to live – Walk Score uses it to plot “distance by transit” so you can plan where you live with transit in mind.  This is an unqualified win for Marin, and a step towards a transit system that doesn’t suck.

Advertisements

Mid-Week Links: Not Quite Paradise

TiburonMarin

  • Traffic along Tiburon’s main road is getting worse, but its bus line is one of the least-used routes in the Marin Transit system.  TAM, MT, and the town think improving school-time bus service may do the same trick it did in Fairfax, although they’re exploring other options as well. (IJ)
  • The historic building that housed Amazing Grace Music, the old instrument shop in the Redhill Avenue median, is gone. The San Anselmo landmark business has moved up the street thanks to George Lucas, who funded the project and lives a block away. (IJ)
  • Fairfax has its gateway supermarket back, now that the Good Earth has opened on the east edge of town. The corner has undergone a major transformation over the past few years, and the store looks set to become even more of an anchor for the town. Not to say that everyone’s happy – a local merchant dialed 911 to complain about a lack of parking. (Patch)
  • Neighbors were up in arms over CVS’s plans for a lit sign in Tiburon, but it turns out businesses are already flaunting local regulations. (IJ, Mill Valley Herald)
  • MALT’s housing-oriented cousin, CLAM, has a new director with an eye towards smart growth and the particular human/nature balance that marks West Marin’s villages. (IJ)
  • The Marin Board of Supervisors were busy this week dissolving the county redevelopment agency, reallocating funds for road repair, rescinding the priority development zone for homes around San Quentin, and bolstering their rainy day fund. (Patch, IJ)

Bay Area

  • The Metropolitan Transportation Commission wants high school interns this summer, and is actually willing to pay them. I’d be all over this were I 18 again. (Patch)
  • Parking in San Francisco could get even more expensive if SFMTA extends parking hours to Saturday evenings and Sundays.  That GGT ride just keeps looking more and more attractive. (SFist)
  • SMART’s rolling stock is on track for a 2013 delivery, and it turns out they’re not the only customer.  Toronto will purchase the same vehicles from manufacturer Nippon-Sharryo, and SMART, as a partial designer of the heavy DMUs, is getting a cut of the profits. (Press Democrat)
  • Rohnert Park’s SMART station has officially been relocated to the city’s center, much to the joy of all parties. Rohnert Park plans on building a downtown based around the station. (NBBJ, Press Democrat)

The Greater Marin

  • Raleigh, NC, is pushing the envelope when it comes to getting people to walk. But it’s not the city doing the push – it’s people who care enough about Raleigh to do what needs to be done, and sometimes that’s just signage. (BBC)
  • Google has been instrumental in bringing transit data into the digital age with its GTFS protocol, allowing people to plan trips using transit instead of just cars.  Golden Gate Transit and Marin Transit are not currently participants, but are actively working on getting online. (Xconomy)
  • Nashville has gone for the gold and released a new downtown zoning code that essentially does away with much of the zoning.  No more parking minimums, no more prescribed uses, no more setback requirements. (Old Urbanist)
  • Norfolk, VA’s The Tide light rail is going like gangbusters, beating ridership expectations in only six months. It faced much the same criticism as SMART, although the two systems will be rather different, and only time will tell how our rail system pans out. (Virginian-Pilot)
  • Building good bike infrastructure means more than painting sharrows, as Marin loves to do, and sometimes it means giving bicyclists their own traffic signal. (SanFranciscoize)