Thursday, the Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority (KRT) voted to spend $10,000 to get the entire KRT transit system on Google Transit.
For those who have used Google Transit when traveling or living in a different city, this tool has shown itself to be pretty useful. But for those who have no idea what this is, here’s a brief guide that will (hopefully) help you out a bit.
In a nutshell, Google Transit allows users of Google Maps or its related smartphone and tablet apps to plan trips and obtain directions using local transit services. Using Google Transit is very similar to using Google for walking or driving directions. But instead of hitting the car or pedestrian icon, you hit this bus (or train, I can’t really tell):
Clicking or selecting that icon will then switch your directions from entirely walking or driving to a combination of walking and the nearest transit line. To see how this works, we’ll use Morgantown as an example, since many Kanawha County residents are familiar with Morgantown and its one of the few cities in West Virginia that has Google Transit.
Let’s say we want to take a trip from Ruby Memorial Hospital to the Morgantown Mall. This is what that trip would look like on a standard computer browser:
Google Transit provides the next several bus arrivals and the time the trip should take (though it’s not perfect – this bus line actually does stop in front of the mall).
I also found that on the Google Maps iPhone app, the transit directions include the standard fare for the entire route:
If you would need to transfer, Google includes that information, too. You could also get really crazy and plan a trip between two different cities that have participating transit agencies and/or commuter rail or Amtrak.
As with everything, using Google Transit takes a little getting used to, and I’m not sure it updates in real time – like if a bus is late. But, having Google Transit in the area should make finding the best bus route to use a LOT easier.
But while we’re waiting for the mapping project to be completed (it won’t be ready until at least next summer), try Google Transit if you happen to be out of town and in a participating area. A list of those places can be found here.