Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The T's new trip planner

I have been playing with the T's new trip planner and overall I give it high marks. One thing that needs to be adjusted is the walk times which seem twice as long as they should be. ( and I'm not a fast walker ) In test runs I have made it seems to be giving the correct information of which routes to take and the travel times themselves seem accurate.

Under "Select Landmark Type" I would suggest a list of hotels that would make it easier for tourists and the list of "attractions" needs to be increased. For example it might be a good idea to include Fenway Park and TD Banknorth Garden to the list. However it shows great potential so let us see how they tweak it the next few weeks.

To get a better feel on the trip planner let us take a look at some other cities.

New York City just updated their trip planner and it doesn't load maps unless asked. Please note that New York transit has a new web address http://www.mta.info/

Chicago's doesn't offer maps but offers consise info. Chicago is also testing bus tracking on the web and with a PDA. Chicago is using a company called Clever Devices for GPS which the T no longer uses as was explained here.

In the San Francisco Bay Area all the local transit options are combined at one site. The SF Muni also is giving real time info on select routes.

Washington Metro seems easy to use.

SEPTA in Philadelphia is simply awful but then again if you rode SEPTA you would never complain about the T ever again.

The trip planners in Los Angeles and Seattle

Toronto offers NOTHING in the way of online trip planning but that maybe better than Montréal which is very confusing

Point is let us give the T praise for at least trying to bring online trip planning to a new level. There is nothing else better out there at least in North America as of now.


Auron said...

NYC didn't even have a trip planner until recent years, some New Yorker geeks had to set one up a la trips123.com. I still remember the frantic calls to MTA's travel info center, since trips123.com could never handle a search for wheelchair accessible transit in NYC.

Boston's has always been admittedly pretty good, and I like LA's; one thing that's not immediately obvious is that it understands "local" lingo and doesn't need street suffixes, also responds to intersections if you just list them as, say, "Hollywood/Normandie" rather than saying "Hollywood Blvd. at Normandie Ave, Los Angeles." This helps immensely when you don't know what city your street intersection is in; not everyone can memorize where the line between Culver City and LA is, but the street intersection alone will get you there. Its downfall is that the maps you get at the end of the search aren't useful to tourists, they're zoomed too far in and can be hard to make sense of. If they could turn their final map into walking directions from your metro stop to your destination, man, they'd be golden.

It has a large number of destinations; I'm going to work near LA's city hall and once made the mistake of putting in a starting point somewhere on the Westside and destination City Hall... it promptly gave me the option for every city hall in LA county, which, lemme tell you, is a long list.

This one still has its...quirks... a search for Northeastern Univ to Logan's T-C on a weekday morning at 7:20 AM gives me 2 MBCR options, no green/orange line options, and tells me to take the Silver Line to T-A and then change for the Silver Line from T-A to T-C. Eh?

Steve said...

a Los Angeles trip planner? hahahaha... its called mapping software, and add about 40% to the time they give for traffic.