Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Public Transporation: Getting Governments to Participate

For Earth Day this year, Google Transit is pleading with local public transport agencies to integrate their route information with Google Maps. Louisville's local TARC bus system (Transit Authority of River City) has a lot of routes and services, but their current route interface is a bit cumbersome, and most people don't even know it exists.

This free service would open the route info up and place it into the international www.google.com site for millions of people to see and use. All that is needed is for TARC to create a series of text files and place them on their website. Google then grabs them, and turns them into an interactive, visual version on their maps. The full instructions are just one page and not very complicated.

Actually, anyone can create these files using a tool similar to my sample TARC route system map. The issue is that the TARC has to contact Google directly about it, and host the files on ridetarc.org.

I wrote to TARC last year about doing this, but got no response. Does anyone have some good contacts at TARC that could see the benefit in this service?

So is anyone up to the challenge? A group of people could get together, split up the routes, and create the needed text files. I know there are lots of TARC fans out there, looking for an easier method to find routes and ride the bus!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

checkout hopstop.com they do a pretty good job with mass transit routing. at least in the big cities anyway.

Michael Schnuerle said...

I took a look at HopStop. They do a good job in a few cities like you said, but not in Louisville. They'd have to work with TARC to get the data.

The built in service on Google's Maps works about the same, and also provides more location information and services to get you on the bus!

Chet Gray said...

I just found this via Consuming Louisville. I'd be up for helping out with this when I can, as TARC seems to be doing nothing. I looked at the feed spec, and it seems more tedious than difficult, which sounds like we could throw some scripting at it.

Michael Schnuerle said...

Chet,

We would need to have TARC's help though for a few reasons. One, the tedious work or converting all the timetables into Google's format would go much faster if TARC could provide them in a certain format, rather than us looking at PDFs to get the info. Also, updates would be a pain if the schedules change.

Two, Google will only accept the data submission if it comes from the TARC organization, not some private people like us.