Wednesday, March 26, 2008
(Last week Eric Schmidt was in town to announce the launch of Google Transit for Perth, the first city in the southern hemisphere. The feature is now live and we're thrilled to have a guest post from Transperth)
As a GIS systems developer working in the Public Transportation industry for the last six years, I have been following the progress of Google Transit as it has developed and expanded across the globe. Given my background, I was particularly excited when Transperth was approached by Google two months ago to ask whether we would be interested in integrating our public transport information with the Google Transit system. It did not take long to convince Transperth Management of the benefits to the public that Google Transit would add to the services Transperth already provided, not to mention the increased positive exposure for Transperth as the first agency in the southern hemisphere to be included!
After talking through these benefits, and the next steps for integrating Transperth services with an employee from Google, Transperth agreed to put Google Transit to the test. To my surprise, I was able to produce a valid Transit Feed for testing that same day! The Google Transit Feed Specification that Google had defined was simple enough that I was able to easily translate our schedule information into the required data feed. After just two months of testing and working with the guys at Google, Transperth and Google were happy to announce that the feed provided would soon be ready for release.
It is certainly an advantage that Transperth operates the only fully integrated public transport system in Australia where you can board any bus, train or ferry service on your journey using one fully integrated ticketing system (both electronic and cash based) and access the one set of journey planning and timetable data.
Now, I'm proud to say that Transperth's public transportation times are live in Google Maps! You can search for them directly in Google Maps, or from the Google Transit homepage.
In the future, I am looking forward to the possibility of expanding the feed provided to include not only the metropolitan area, but also all the major regional town centres in Western Australia managed by the Public Transport Authority, as well as the inter-town TransWA services. I am also looking forward to working with other public transport agencies from around the world to see how the Google Transit system can be further improved in the future - especially first by encouraging them to be a part of it! It's great to know that exciting new features are already being discussed by several agencies around the world, and I look forward to seeing Google Transit continue to innovate and provide great services for Transperth users to take advantage of.