Thirteen months ago, I wrote about Google’s plans to team up with the MTA & other regional transportation agencies to create the tri-state area version of Google Transit. The wait is now over as the tri-state area version of Google Transit has launched. Here is the official press release from the MTA:
Google Transit to Provide Seamless Trip-Planning Across MTA Region and Beyond, Encourage Transit Use and Promote Tourism
Governor David A. Paterson today joined Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger, MTA Executive Director and CEO Elliot G. Sander, Port Authority of NY and NJ Executive Director Christopher O. Ward, New York City Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler, Google Vice President Marissa Mayer, and Google Director of Maps & Earth John Hanke to announce the launch of Google TransitTM in New York.
Google Transit, a feature of the Google MapsTM online mapping service, provides point-to-point public transit trip planning that will now include transit services throughout the MTA service territory – New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, MTA Bus, Long Island Bus and Staten Island Railway – as well as other regional connecting services participating in the initiative, such as New Jersey Transit, the Port Authority’s AirTrain and Staten Island Ferry. For the first time, travelers can access streamlined, regional trip-planning based on up-to-date schedule data across the subway, bus and rail systems. The application even includes walking directions for the beginning or end of the trip.
Governor David A. Paterson said: “Google Maps for Transit is a truly innovative marriage of information and infrastructure. It is a perfect example of how the public and private sectors can partner together to benefit us all — and it didn’t cost New York taxpayers a penny. I applaud my colleagues at the MTA and Port Authority for making this a priority, and our friends at Google for continuing to make the world an easier place to navigate.”
MTA Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger said: “At a time when the MTA is facing mounting fiscal challenges, we are thrilled to be able to offer this service to our customers at no cost to taxpayers. Google Transit will encourage ridership and underscores the importance of the MTA to the region’s economy and environment.”
MTA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot G. Sander said: “The MTA is delighted to partner with Google to provide our customers with this cutting-edge tool for getting around our 5,000 square-mile territory. Customer service is a top priority, and this is just the latest example of how the MTA is pursuing innovative ideas to serve our riders.”
Port Authority of NY/NJ Executive Director Christopher O. Ward said: “Our challenge at the Port Authority is to move people faster and more efficiently. Google’s new technology will help us meet that challenge by giving travelers better information so they can move from JFK to any point in the city as seamlessly as possible.”
New York City Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler said: “We are excited to welcome Google Maps for Transit to New York City. One of the keys to increasing mass transit usage is making it easier for people to understand how to use the system. This partnership between Google and the MTA does exactly that. It harnesses the power of Google’s innovative search technologies to allow residents and visitors to more easily understand how mass transit will get them to where they need to go”
John Hanke, Director of Google Maps & Earth said: “We are extremely pleased to join forces with the MTA to provide information about their vast transit system in Google Maps. By being able to access station and schedule data for the largest public transit system in the United States via Google Maps, users are exposed to the availability and convenience of public transportation and are better equipped to take advantage of all that the New York metropolitan region has to offer.”
The program provides users with more valuable trip information; generates useful local information from Google Maps; and creates opportunities for MTA to reach out to car commuters who may not realize the availability, cost-effectiveness and convenience of public transit. Key benefits of Google Transit trip planner include:
Point-to-point trip planning using the familiar Google Maps format
In-depth information about a destination:
subway, train or bus stops serving the destination
next scheduled departures from the station or stop
search of nearby businesses, restaurants, attractions, and amenities (e.g. “delicatessens near City Hall Station”)
Unique, user-friendly features:
360-degree street-level views of the destination with Google Maps Street View, which can be rotated by the user with their computer mouse
“My Location” feature triangulates the user’s approximate cell-phone position on Google Maps for mobile and indicates distance from the destination
Still photo entries for popular destinations
Icons for Wikipedia entries for places of interest at stations
Trip planning also accessible via many portable devices
Ability to instantly share a trip plan with friends via email
A link on the Google Transit page will take visitors back to www.mta.info to access additional MTA information each time MTA data is shown on Google Maps
At no cost to the MTA, Google and the MTA collaborated on the development of Google Transit for the New York region, joining other major public transit providers who had launched similar services with Google, such as Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), NJ Transit, San Francisco (BART), Atlanta (MARTA), and internationally, Moscow and Tokyo.
The project involved consolidating and reworking disparate MTA schedule and station location data into a format that would enable the service for the New York region. This information will be made available to other developers to enable development of new customer-focused services in the future. Google Transit complements existing MTA trip planning services, including Trip Planner and Trips 123, by providing another way for riders to discover the wealth of services that the MTA offers.
Google, Google Maps, and Google Transit are registered trademarks of Google Inc.
Sewell Chan of the New York Times City Room Blog also filed a report about the new service as well as focusing on how Google had to parse the large volume of data. Here is his report:
A number of public officials and the founders of Google assembled at Grand Central Terminal this morning to announce the start of New York’s version of Google Transit, an online feature that they said would transform the experience of navigating New York City’s transit system, the nation’s busiest.
“It is a very complicated transit system, and it just got less complicated today with the advent of Google Maps for transit,” Gov. David A. Paterson said, noting that the subway system opened with 9.1 miles of lines in 1904, and that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority now serves a territory of 5,000 square miles.
The array of public officials present reflected Google’s economic might, particularly at a time when Wall Street’s convulsions have left the city and state economy reeling. Not only did the governor and leaders of the M.T.A. attend the Grand Central news conference, but so did Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler, representing the Bloomberg administration, and officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and of New Jersey Transit.
“It just gives me great personal pleasure to be able to help even in a tiny way this fantastic public transportation system,” Sergey Brin, one of Google’s founders, said at the news conference. The company’s other founder, Larry Page, said he even hoped the tool would “help congestion, help the economy over all.”
Google has already presented online maps for several transit systems around the world, and several New York companies have provided similar services, like Hopstop.com, but the new Google tool has support from public officials. (The M.T.A. even posted a link to Google Transit on its Web site, along with a Google training video. And the M.T.A. allowed Google to install 10 demonstration kiosks where users can try out the new tool, until 5 p.m. today.)
Click here for the complete report.
I am glad to finally this project come to fruition as it will be a valuable asset to the millions who will end up using it at some point. Score one for Google & the tri-state area transportation agencies.
xoxo Transit Blogger