BusinessWeek: “Ditching car OK with Net transit planners”

One of the main arguments I make for investing in internet-based strategies for transit marketing and schedule and route information (or, as its called in the transit world, “customer information), is that transit information on mobile devices and easy-to-use trip planners and maps can make transit radically easier to use.  So much so, I believe, that they can substantially improve transit service from a rider’s perspective, all without having to put more buses on the road or trains on the track.

The title of the article Bryce Nesbitt sent me (Thanks, Bryce!) says it perfectly.  “Ditching car OK with Net transit planners” — difficult-to-use or find information is a huge barrier to people interested in taking transit, and making the information easy-to-use can open an agency’s fareboxes to a lot of new riders.

Also, note this article appeared in BusinessWeek (well, it was actually an AP story).  One of the positive aspects of Google Transit, from an agency perspective” is the “Google effect” — of associating your brand and public transportation with one of the world’s hip tech leaders.

Here’s a link to the full article, or an excerpt of the first few paragraphs below:

Review: Ditching car OK with Net transit planners
By Anick Jesdanun

As a New Yorker, I don’t own a car, and I really hate driving.

So I challenged myself to avoid the driver’s seat as much as possible during a recent West Coast trip, something made practical with all the online transit planners that have cropped up in recent years.

In the old days, I’d have to track down bus schedules and maps on paper to figure out where to go. I’d have to manually determine which transfers to take and where. Even if I did, I’d worry about catching a bus in the wrong direction.

The car usually won out, as my hatred of driving was far less severe than my intolerance for ending up stranded in an unfamiliar city.

Now, I can let the computer figure it all out for me. Services from Google Inc., individual transit agencies and other sites now cover many cities with decent transit systems. The sites work much like the online maps for driving directions: Plug in where you are and where want to go, and the computer spits back transit options.

The services are far more comprehensive today than they were just a few years ago.

With them, I devised a way from Seattle’s Space Needle to a friend’s house all by myself. I avoided driving my entire time in Los Angeles, that capital of motoring. I even found out a quicker route to the airport in my own city.

Google’s transit planner is the most extensive I found, covering nearly 100 U.S. cities and regions from Albany, N.Y., to Winchester, Va., plus a handful of places in Canada, Taiwan, Italy and other countries. It works well with its existing maps for driving directions, so you can check all your options (including walking) with one search.

More in the original article >

Aaron is the founding principal of Trillium Solutions, Inc. He brings experience that includes 12 years of web-development with 8 years in public transportation, with knowledge of fixed-route transportation, paratransit, rural transportation, and active transportation modes. Aaron is a recognized expert in developing data standards, web-application design, digital communications, and online marketing strategy. He originally developed Trillium’s GTFS Manager, and has played a key role in the development of the GTFS data specification since 2007.