Google Says Its New Program May Boost Transit Ridership
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A new Google program detailing the city’s public transportation system could increase ridership and help New York’s economy, one of the search engine’s co-founders, Larry Page, said yesterday.
Google Transit, which is powered by data supplied by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, allows Google Maps browsers to click on subway and bus stops to get detailed information on routes and schedules. Users can also search for the best way to get from location to location using public transportation and generate directions that take into account the latest service and schedule changes.
In addition to New York City, the new feature will track Metro North and New Jersey Transit stops throughout the tri-state area, meaning that searches will be able to extend into parts of Connecticut, New Jersey, and upstate New York. The program tracks some 40,000 individual “points,” such as bus shelters, subway stops, and train stations.
At a press conference announcing the program, Governor Paterson praised Google and the MTA for working together on Google Transit, which he said would make life easier for New Yorkers.
“There are now 8,506,000 people that traverse the 422 bus, subway, and rail lines here at the MTA. It is a very complicated system and it just got less complicated,” Mr. Paterson said yesterday.
In discussing the new feature, which was financed entirely by Google, Mr. Paterson alluded to the state’s sluggish economy, which has led the MTA to reconsider plans for several large-scale capital projects.
“It is a time in New York’s history when we are trying to do more with less, and this is a good example of it because we won’t cause the taxpayers to lose a penny,” Mr. Paterson said. “We are extremely happy about that situation.”
Mr. Page, accompanied by Google’s other cofounder, Sergey Brin, said at yesterday’s event that he hoped Google Transit would help increase public transportation usage and boost business in the city.
“I think with these kinds of services that we’re providing for transit that really help people easily ride transit, more people get into it and really help congestion and help the economy overall,” Mr. Page said.
New York City is not the first area to be serviced by Google Transit — it is already online in Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Moscow, and Tokyo. Also, several Web sites already offer New Yorkers the ability to map trips using public transportation, such as HopStop.com, the MTA’s own Trip Planner, and Trips 123.
According to the director of Google Maps and Earth, John Hanke, the new program is significant in that it exposes more users to transportation information by introducing them to it through the popular Google Maps service and allowing them to easily combine the program’s features.