SF Bay ferry services live on Google Transit
On Friday, the San Francisco ferry services went live on Google Transit. Now, travelers can plan inter-agency trips across BART, Muni, AC Transit and other services along with the five ferry services: Golden Gate Ferry, Baylink, Oakland/Alameda Ferry, Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry, and Blue & Gold Fleet at maps.google.com or an iPhone, iPod touch, or other mobile device like a Blackberry or Android-based phone.
Trillium publishes the GTFS for the ferry services with the support of Bay Crossings. We’re experimenting with ways of consolidating the management and dissemination of schedule information for customers. Currently, information from a centralized database, manipulated through Trillium’s WebSchedule is presented through the published GTFS for Google Transit, the SF Bay Ferries map at baycrossings.com, and the large flat panel display of scheduled ferry arrivals and departures at the San Francisco Bay Ferry Building Bay Crossings store location.
4 thoughts on “SF Bay ferry services live on Google Transit”
this is great — only problem is that when i ask google maps to go from berkeley to tiburon, it has me get on BART to embarcadero (okay), then tells me to transfer to the F line, and then get on a bus (each for a block) to get to the ferry building. instead of walking less than 1/4 mile.
i think google needs to rework their algorithm a bit…
otherwise, i can’t wait for golden gate transit and all the other agencies to get on google transit —
Clearly, almost everyone would choose to walk from the Embarcadero BART station to the Ferry Building. From the maps UI, though, it’s pretty easy to figure out that’s possible, even if the directions don’t literally say to do that.
Creating an algorithm that chooses when to include a walking travel leg vs. a transit travel leg must be challenging. In most cases, I’ve advocated on behalf of rural transit agency clients for Google Transit to more strongly preference returning available transit over walking (with some rural systems, indirect loop routes mean that walking is actually faster than traveling by bus for some trips). Even though someone who has no problem walking a mile or two may choose something other than the all-transit option, other factors such as weather, carrying packages, or disability may make the longer transit trip the only or preferable option.
What I am getting at is that the agencies I work for would prefer that Google Transit minimize walking distances and show all available transit services in most cases. The passenger can then choose to replace some transit travel legs with walking. As to how that reconciles with cases like the BART to Ferry Building transfer across the F Line and bus, I’d be curious to find out if there are other cases where a transit service or passenger would want or need a very short-leg transit service to transfer (maybe connector service to an air terminal?) It’s tempting to say that Google Transit should not return short hop service where an under 1km walking transfer is possible, but would instituting that screw something else up?
Switching topics somewhat…
SF Bay Ferry service trip planning in Google Transit will be much more useful when Golden Gate bus service, Marin Transit, and other North Bay Area transit services participate in Google Transit. Right now, I think that queries to Tiburon, CA, don’t return any result, because that city is too far from the ferry terminal and the local transit service isn’t included yet. Only to trips to Tiburon Ferry Terminal or Belvedere, CA will show the Blue & Gold Fleet service to the Tiburon Ferry Terminal.
It’s also necessary to query for locations within ~4 miles of the Sausalito Ferry Terminal and Vallejo Ferry Terminal. And you can’t query for just Sausalito, CA or Vallejo, CA as your origin or destination.
This shows a little bit more clearly what I mean about the walking distance limitation.
The walk from “Vallejo, CA” to the Vallejo Ferry Terminal is more than 4 miles: http://tinyurl.com/ndtfu9
Google Transit doesn’t return trips where there is a walking leg that is more than about 4 miles.
maybe all they need to do is say “you may want to walk instead” for certain legs like that transfer. or have a place in options (with timing) where you could specify some rough things like how far you’re willing to walk.
i hope marin’s stuff gets in soon… those buses come so infrequently that having schedules optimized would be really useful.
that said, google can only do so much — in the end, the bay area just needs better transit planning. in the mean time, this is the best we have, so it’s great that we’re doing it.