Five days ago, the MTA debuted a interactive “Trip Planner” map. Prior to the debut, they issued a press release via e-mail to talk about the map & its features:
The Interactive Map, a new feature of MTA NYC Transit’s on-line itinerary service Trip Planner, opens up a new way for customers to search, locate and pinpoint destinations, as well as places of interest in and around the five boroughs. Using the tools of the Interactive Map, obtaining a travel itinerary using the NYC Transit subway or bus network will be as easy as marking two points on the map. Released in a Beta format today as an option on the Trip Planner homepage, the Interactive Map promises to change the way customers navigate the City and plan their trips.
Employing features of the Interactive Map, users can pan to any area in New York City and, with a click on the tool bar, view a location on either a road map or aerial view while utilizing multiple zoom levels. The subway map, showing all the subway lines in an area including each subway station, is available as a user-controlled overlay in either view. Station information is easily accessible by mouse overlay or clicking on an individual station. Accessible subway stations are also available as a user-controlled feature.
The Interactive Map was developed by the Internet Technologies Group of NYC Transit’s Technology and Information Services Division. “With the Interactive Map, customers will have access to features not previously available through our Trip Planner itinerary service,” said Sohaib Mallick, Sr. Director of Internet Technologies. “We are offering our customers more flexibility in how they not only use our network, but navigate around the City. By incorporating the subway map as an overlay on the street map, and including an extensive list of public locations, we’ve provided our customers with the ability to view the subway as it relates to their specific travel needs,” added Mallick.
At the heart of the Interactive Map is NAVTEQ® map data, a recognized leader in digital map technology, while the aerial imagery is supplied by Microsoft® Virtual Earth™.
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NAVTEQ digital map data, known for its accuracy and extensive coverage, provides an ideal
foundation for supporting innovative internet-based mapping applications like the Interactive Map that require accurate, rich and relevant content. Microsoft’s Virtual Earth mapping platform provides the visualization component of the Interactive Map, offering customers an immersive touring experience of the City through high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery as well as a photorealistic and highly accurate three-dimensional city modeling.
“The Interactive Map will add even more value to the itinerary planning experience that over 14,000 daily customers have come to rely on with Trip Planner,” said Paul J. Fleuranges, Vice President of Corporate Communications. “In 2008, Trip Planner was used by more than 3.7 million customers to plan itineraries, a 187-percent increase over 2007. With the addition of the Interactive Map and the unique features it provides, we believe Trip Planner will become even more popular with our regular customers and visitors,” added Fleuranges.
A unique feature offered by the Interactive Map is the ability to personalize it. By opening up and maintaining an account, users can log-in with an email address and password and retrieve marked locations, maps and itineraries. Instead of panning and zooming to a particular area each time they log on to the Interactive Map, account holders can save that map and any marked locations of interest – their home, office, school, doctor’s office – for retrieval and use in future settings. This is particularly helpful for users when planning an itinerary with the Trip Planner feature, because they won’t have to spend time marking locations each time they want to plan an itinerary.
Unlike our current text-based Trip Planner, map users can use the map’s graphical marker feature to plan a trip directly from the map. Just like in the text-based Trip Planner, an Origin and Destination are required to get an itinerary. Users can place a marker on the map in any of four convenient ways: Station Locator, Place Finder, Address Finder, and Custom Marker.
“We’ve sought to integrate NYC Transit information like the Subway Map, Trip Planner, and Station Locator with customer specific information such as Places of Interest, the Address Finder, and the street map in one place to help our customers make efficient use of the system,” said Bill Neary, Manager of Online Services for the Internet Technologies Group. “In this Beta release we are hoping customers make use of the “Contact Us” feature to let us know how we can make the Interactive Map even better,” added Neary.
Using the Interactive Map a user can create a custom map view setting the zoom level, panning to a particular area, setting road or aerial view, adding any number of markers and then emailing the custom map view to a friend. By clicking on a link in the email the recipient will see the custom map view created by the sender. This feature would be helpful to someone hosting a conference, meeting or other event. An organizer can email the map to attendees, and recipients can then add their own location to the map to get directions to the event choosing the mode and time of travel, walking distance and other itinerary choices.
Station Locator – With just two clicks locate any NYC Transit or SIR station in the system. Once a station is chosen, the location is automatically marked on the map.
Places of Interest – drop-down menus help to quickly locate hotels, museums, parks, sports stadiums, theaters and other attractions.
Address Finder – type in an address, choose a borough and immediately receive a visual representation of the location on the map.
Add Marker – Users can mark – a way of graphically noting a location – the map with locations of their own personal interest. Markers can be labeled by the user, who also sets the color of the marker.
Line Map – While in the interactive map, users can access all the detailed transfer and stop information contained in the individual subway line strip maps.
Trip Planner – Use the map to get Trip Planner powered itineraries between any two points marked on the map. And as with Trip Planner, the user can specify mode of travel, walking distance, minimizing travel time or transfers and whether an accessible trip is required.
Email – Users can personalize the map, including any number of markers and then share it with others.
Accessible Station Finder – With one click users can see all accessible subway stations marked with an icon in the current map view.
The map can be accessed by clicking here.
This is just yet more proof of how the MTA is serious about updating the technology within the system to the benefit of its riders. I hope they can continue such initiatives in the future by having the money necessary to do so.
xoxo Transit Blogger