I have been very frustrated lately with the lack of public transit information in Phoenix available on Google Maps. If you haven’t used that feature yet, go to nearly any major city (except phoenix) on google maps, pick two destinations, and set the option to show you public transit directions. These directions are amazing, they will show you how far you need to walk/drive to get to the bus, where to get off, how long you wait between buses, and plan your entire route for you.
I know there is a similar service on the Valley Metro website, but it only uses valley metro buses, not any local bus systems (like the orbit or the flash). If all of these transit systems submitted their routes to google maps, it would be completely seamless to plan a ride even across bus systems.
The advantages to using Google Maps to plan my route instead of the Valley Metro Website are these (and a lot more):
- an actual map instead of just directions
- ability to adjust the route (by dragging the google maps line around)
- can search for places instead of just addresses
- eg. I could say “from Arizona State University to Walmart” and see which bus routes take me to which Walmarts, instead of having to know two addresses.
- A way for out-of towners to use the PTS (who not from here knows its called “valley metro”?)
- Faster searches (you probably just used google maps to find out where you were going anyway)
- Easier URL
- “maps.google.com” is easier than “http://tripplan.phoenix.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U”
- More light rail usage (I read somewhere that AZ is planning on loosing some exorbitant amount of money on the light rail, more people riding it will definitely help that out)
So what I did was send an email to the Customer Service part of Valley Metro, in hopes of getting some action out of them. Depending on their response (or lack thereof) I encourage people to email/ the Valley Metro customer service and tell them that you want their data on google maps also. The customer service email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can reguster and use their submission form at: http://www.valleymetro.org/customer_support/contact_us/ or you can call them at (602) 253-5000.
We also need some action from the local authorities to make sure this goes smothly and we have all public transportation (like the Tempe Orbit buses) included in this. The local authorities liely have some influence in the overall actiona of Valey Metro too. There is a list of local authority phone numbers at: http://www.valleymetro.org/customer_support/contact_transit_rep/
The Tempe In Motion authority phone number is (480) 350-2775
Below is the email I sent to the customer service.
I have lived in Phoenix most of my life, and have always heard people from other places complain about our public transportation system. Now that I am living in Tempe and using the buses and the light rail very often, I see some of the issues.
The main issue I see right now is that there is no easy way to get directions using the valley metro system (yes, I have seen the trip planner at http://tripplan.phoenix.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U). I believe this could easily be fixed with submission of the routes and times to google map’s transit program. This process is quite simple, and should not take more than a dozen man-hours in it’s entirety.
The URLs to learn how to submit the data are below:
This simple step would result in myself, and many other people, using the valley metro systems many more times than we do now, and would show people who are visiting an easy and cheap way to get around the valley.
Nearly every major city in the United States has submitted their data to Google Maps, and as a result of that it has been extremely easy to get around when I have recently visited those cities.
Even Flagstaff currently has a working google maps transit feed. With the number of people living in the valley, and the huge investments into the transit system recently (most notably the light rail) the transit system would have to be self-sacrificing in order to pass up this opportunity.
Hopefully we can get this done soon, then we canall start taking the bus more often isntead of driving (I seriously hate driving everywhere, I would rather walk or take a bus or the light rail [I love taking the light rail!])
I think I will also start a facebook group for this…
On Monday, March 02, 2009, I received the following email from Valley Metro:
“I received your message below regarding Google Transit. We are working on securing the required information from the City of Phoenix to implement it on Google Transit in the near future. ”
yay! Now lets see how long it takes them…