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October 1, 2009 | 6 Comments

How to Use Google Transit to Get Around on Metro

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For many of us, the first step to using public transit is planning our trip. Maybe you’ve thought about using the trains and buses to get to some of your favorite destinations…out to dinner, back and forth to work, the ballgame, to a friend’s house.  But you weren’t sure which buses and trains to use, and certainly when you catch them. Metro has TripFinder software on our website, and now you can also use Google Maps to plan your ride.

Say I’m interested in meeting a friend for dinner at Blueberry Hill after work. What’s the best way to get there? First, I go to Google Maps and type in my destinations, and hit “Get Directions.”  I don’t need to know the address for Blueberry Hill – Google will fill that information in.

On the left hand side of the screen, below the destination fields, select the field “By public transit”, as shown below:

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Hit enter, and Google will provide you with several options involving various combinations of taking a train, bus, and walking.

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Now I have to choose – do I want to take the train and walk, as indicated by the first option, or take a bus?  Since I’m still wearing my work shoes, let’s take the bus!

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The directions tell me to take the train from the Arch Laclede’s Landing station to the Delmar Station on the Lambert Main terminal line (the Red Line).  Then, I’ll catch the #97 Northbound (the bus marque will read “To Clayton MetroLink Station”) and get off right in front of Blueberry Hill.  According to Google, it should take me around 29 minutes.

But since it is a beautiful fall St. Louis day, maybe I’ll walk instead:

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With these directions, I will take the Shrewsbury line (the Blue Line) to the Skinker station and walk to Blueberry Hill.  If I click on the “Show Details” button shown above, I get a better idea of my route.

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So now I know exactly when and how I can use public transit to get to where I need to go.  You can also view Google Transit directions your smart phone.  Isn’t technology great?

Have any other questions on how to use Metro?  Email blog@nextstopstl.org.

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Transit Benefits

6 thoughts on “How to Use Google Transit to Get Around on Metro”

  1. Todd Plesko says:

    Nextstop team:

    Can you explain why the Google Transit link is not shown as an option or even mentioned as an option on the Metro website. In the industry you will see both approaches…referencing the google transit option and not referencing it.

    KCATA, LA Metro, and the CTA show the Google option very prominently on their website including the home page. Others like Portland (which was the beta site for Google Transit)and DART (Dallas) do not mention the google option.

    In the case of DART, I believe the reason is a fear that DART can not control the information (updates etc) in a timely manner. Those who do believe they must make the effort to provide the updated information to Google like they do their own trip planner.

    I would be interested the current thinking of Metro.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I don’t know if that was a conscious choice or oversight; I do know, however, that there’s a two-week cycle in getting data up on Google Transit so if a service change is coming, and there are last-minute changes, Google Transit won’t be as accurate as TripFinder. Also, with TripFinder you can plan trips out in the future and be sure that the information is correct. (For instance, if there’s a service change October 15, today I can look up the directions but they will be different after the 15th. TripFinder would already have those changes loaded; Google Transit does not until the day of the service change.) That might explain the reluctance. I’ll check on it, though.

  3. Paul says:

    Todd, Let me add to and clarify some of Jennifer’s comments.

    The general idea of putting a link (or itinerary widget) for Google Transit on our main page is currently under discussion. We all agree that Google Transit is extremely user friendly and may be the better tool for public usage. However, as Jennifer stated there are some cons, namely the two week turn around time for Google to get new data live.

    Google checks to see if we have new data for them on Fridays and continues to look for new data by COB on Monday. If new data is found, they get it into their test environment by the next Friday. If everything looks good, it goes into production the Friday after that. So it is a turn around time of a minimum of two weeks (barring there are no issues with the data!).

    Once a decision has been made whether to link to Google Transit from our homepage, I am sure we will post about it on NextStop! Keep watching!

  4. RTBones says:

    Understand the issue with Google Transit link. Even with the data lag, I find it much more user-friendly to use, particularly from a handheld. If a link to GT is not put on the Metro site, is there a chance Metro’s own search engine could be re-written to be more user friendly?

    1. Courtney says:

      RT,

      The TripFinder software is something that is developed by a trip-planning software company, not in-house. So for the immediate future, both applications will be available for riders.

  5. 63101 says:

    Google seems to show that the Metrolink rail yard at Ewing is a scheduled stop. This results in Google Transit telling you that, for example, to get to the UPS depot at Jefferson you could just get off the train at the yards and walk over.

    I’m pretty sure that the train operator won’t let me off there, but I certainly never asked 🙂

    Is this something that can be fixed in your data feed?

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