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Friday, August 2, 2013

Google Vs. King County Metro Transit

Posted by on Fri, Aug 2, 2013 at 8:09 AM

Yesterday, Metro announced that the beta version of their Trip Planner was open for business. It features a clickable map, routes that feature more than one mode of transit, and more. You can check it out here.

I haven't used King County's Trip Planner in years, because I found it to be slow, stupid, and unable to recognize a whole bunch of addresses. The beta Trip Planner fixes most of my complaints. The interface seems pretty zippy, although it's not as clean or as simple as Google Maps. But, just for fun, I looked up a trip from The Stranger's offices to the Lynnwood Municipal Golf Course on both the Beta Trip Planner and Google Maps. Google's directions involved a taxi ride from the Lynnwood Transit Center to the golf course, whereas the Trip Planner suggested Edmonds bus route C116 to finish the trip. Which, as far as I'm concerned, means the Trip Planner beat out Google. This is the first time in years that King County's site has bested Google in one-on-one trip-planning combat.

Of course, I'd prefer it if King County had an app with all this information. The times when I plan a trip are actually pretty low; what I need is real-time transit information. I've basically got all the information I need, between One Bus Away and Transit App, but there's always room for one more good transportation app, especially if it would play well with other regional transit options.

 

Comments (29) RSS

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1
I have always found Trip planner to be good and just as good as google maps.
Posted by Seattle14 on August 2, 2013 at 8:31 AM · Report this
2
Takes a third of the time in my car plus I don't have to lug my golf clubs.
Posted by Buses are for the Caddies on August 2, 2013 at 8:34 AM · Report this
3
Troll @2: ASSHOLE!
Posted by captdrastic on August 2, 2013 at 8:36 AM · Report this
4
Google does give you real-time public transportation info, via Google Now (so yeah, nobody knows about it).

Unfortunately, Big G doesn't seem to realize that the real-time information public transportation riders want is when the next train or bus leaves, not the estimated time to work.
Posted by robotslave on August 2, 2013 at 8:36 AM · Report this
DOUG. 5
Meanwhile, Metro's new online schedules suck balls. Why would they combine the #26 and #28 bus schedules on a single page? Are they trying to save paper? It's confusing as fuck.

If he wants my vote, Dow Constantine better fix this by Tuesday!
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on August 2, 2013 at 8:45 AM · Report this
Brian Ferris 6
The main reason Google performs poorly is that Community Transit does not release their schedule data to Google (or other developers) so it doesn't get included in Google Transit routing results. OBA historically included some CT data, but it required a FOIA request to get it. Now that OBA is hosted by Sound Transit, I assume they continue to have direct access to CT's data.
Posted by Brian Ferris on August 2, 2013 at 8:48 AM · Report this
stinky 7
Not evident is whether their trip planner is informed by real-time arrival data or is strictly based upon schedule data. For those agencies that offer real-time data to Google (KCM isn't one, yet), the Google trip planner will use that to help formulate the plan. That's useful.

Locally-developed WhichB.us offers trip-planning for the Puget Sound region, and they have an iOS and an Android app, and a mobile-ready web site for those with Windows Phone or Blackberries (or who haven't installed the app).

I don't think we want KCM building apps. I think we want KCM making their data, including real-time arrival prediction data, available to developers, who are going to be much more agile and innovative. That's the model that's worked in every other market. Apps developed by agencies tend to either suck, fail, or both suck and fail. Witness Translink's abandoned iOS app.

Not that I have an opinion or anything.

Posted by stinky on August 2, 2013 at 8:51 AM · Report this
8
@6 This week I was trying to figure out how to get from Greenlake to the Mukilteo ferry and Google maps didn't have Community Transit bus information, though it did have information about using the Sounder. The Community Transit website had several good transit options for the trip and a decent mobile site. I wonder what's keeping them from sharing their info with developers.
Posted by aurora f on August 2, 2013 at 9:00 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 9
@6 "OBA historically included some CT data, but it required a FOIA request to get it. "

Can you provide a source for this? Because that's insane. What data as a public agency wouldn't they release?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 2, 2013 at 9:05 AM · Report this
Brian Ferris 10
@8 I believe they have lacked the resources (technical, financial) to publish their schedule data in a common format.
Posted by Brian Ferris on August 2, 2013 at 9:06 AM · Report this
11
This new trip planner also does a couple new (and long overdue) things.

(1. It includes Link's full daily schedule. Our long regional nightmare is over?

(2. It allows you full access on one platform to all schedules for all routes for Metro, ST, PT, CT, IT, KT, ET, and WSF(!) (Well, all ferry routes except the San Juans).

Posted by ZachS on August 2, 2013 at 9:09 AM · Report this
Brian Ferris 12
@9 when I worked on OBA, I did at least two public record requests for CT schedule data and wrote a converter to turn that data into GTFS (https://github.com/bdferris/onebusaway-c…). Short of a screen shot of the email I sent them, you'll have to trust me. The CT staff were always very pleasant to deal with, but as I said, they didn't have a mandate to publish their data in a common format (aka GTFS), so maybe it took the official weight of a public records request to allow them to provide it? The would provide GIS data (basically, stop locations and route paths) without a public records request.
Posted by Brian Ferris on August 2, 2013 at 9:18 AM · Report this
13
@5, the 26/28 combo are likely on one schedule to show combined frequent service from the Fremont Bridge to Downtown via Dexter.
Posted by ZachS on August 2, 2013 at 9:21 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 14
@10 but... why the heck would that still require a FOIA-type request? That's just bizarre.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 2, 2013 at 9:22 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 15
@12 I totally trust you (and thanks for the best app on my phone that I use more than any other beside imessage, mail, and alien blue). It just seemed silly for it have to get to that point!
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 2, 2013 at 9:25 AM · Report this
16
"This week I was trying to figure out how to get from Greenlake to the Mukilteo ferry"

Take I5, exit for 525 . Takes about 30 minutes in my car.
Posted by Listening to NPR, sipping latte, chatting with family on August 2, 2013 at 9:29 AM · Report this
fletc3her 17
You'd think Google could find an intern to tap in the CT data in the proper format.
Posted by fletc3her on August 2, 2013 at 9:32 AM · Report this
wisepunk 18
Hmm. Looks like the CT data isn't on the nokia system either. I have never had any issues using the here system, until I try it and there is no route available. Of course, why the fuck would I go to Lynnwood?
Posted by wisepunk on August 2, 2013 at 9:40 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 19

Starting Point: 98030 (Kent East Hill zipcode)

Destination: Key Arena

Result: Terrible
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on August 2, 2013 at 9:42 AM · Report this
kittenalarm 20
Fuck OBA, I have been late and missed busses soooo many times because of that app. I have had it tell me busses were coming, only to have the bus not show up at all. I switched to Car2Go. Recommend!
Posted by kittenalarm on August 2, 2013 at 9:57 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 21
@19
Starting Point: 98030 (Kent East Hill zipcode)


That's your failure.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 2, 2013 at 10:15 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 22
#21

Starting Point: 98105 (Wallingford)

...

Result: Just as bad
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on August 2, 2013 at 10:37 AM · Report this
23
What #6 said. The reason Google doesn't have the data is that CT refuses to share the data. So, indeed: Google can't plan using the data. I hope CT enjoy the fact that they've "won", even as their customers lose.
Posted by Warren Terra on August 2, 2013 at 11:46 AM · Report this
24
Talking about 'beta'! Mercer Island to Seattle doesn't seem to work at all. Just get error message 'We could not identify a connection between your starting point and your destination..." for any two addresses I could come up with between MI and Seattle.
Not to mention, when I typed in 'SE 28th St' (north end of MI), it let me select from a list but then showed me the Bellevue one instead on the map. These were the mistakes I found with ten minutes of poking around.
Posted by patbareb on August 2, 2013 at 12:00 PM · Report this
25
Starting Point: 98105 (Wallingford)

You can't use Zip Codes. Read the online Help.
Posted by Seattle Joe on August 2, 2013 at 1:55 PM · Report this
Fnarf 26
@2, the 16 goes almost directly there, assuming you can handle a walk across the Center.

I wonder how long a taxi ride from the Lynnwood Transit Center adds to any trip anywhere? Two weeks? Has anyone EVER hailed a cab in Lynnwood?
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on August 2, 2013 at 2:21 PM · Report this
27
Nope, they still don't recognize my addy and require a second screen to confirm which one (of two identical addresses) I mean. Google wins.
Posted by ishf on August 2, 2013 at 10:42 PM · Report this
28
I stopped using Metro's outdated trip planner months ago and instead have been using the Sound Transit trip planner with the same results as Metro's but with real maps. Now if Metro would coordinate with OneBusAway more than they do things would be remarkably better.
Posted by Weekilter on August 3, 2013 at 2:01 PM · Report this
29
@4: OneBusAway does this http://www.onebusaway.org
Posted by Weekilter on August 3, 2013 at 2:06 PM · Report this

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