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‘Google Transit’ Tames Rochester’s Baffling Bus Schedules

Rochester's bus routes and schedules can be intimidating for someone who doesn't frequently ride the bus.
If we’re being 100% honest with each other I have to tell you I used to pee myself with fear at the thought of having to ride Rochester’s bus system. Not because the buses are dirty—they’re actually some of the cleanest buses I’ve ever been in. And no, I’m not afraid of the “people” who ride the bus—some my best friends external link use RTS to get everywhere they go. I’m ashamed to say I used to avoid taking the bus because I couldn’t read those damn bus schedules. Pathetic I know.

Traveling to and from downtown wasn’t the problem. All I had to do was find a bus stop and hop on—it’s a straight shot. But if I had to get anywhere involving a transfer (which, in Rochester, is pretty much everywhere) then I was lost. How in the world would I know which bus to transfer to once I got downtown? And how long would I have to wait? Would it be quicker to walk? How do I know if this is the most direct route? How much time do I have to leave myself to catch the 7 o’clock show at the Little? AAAAAAH! Forget it! I’ll drive.

Not so fast… There’s an app for that…

No car? You don't need a bus schedule... You need Google Transit.RGRTA is now part of Google Transit external link, a free service that lets people find routes and schedules right from the comfort of your PC or mobile device. The tool is designed to remove the uncertainty from riding the bus. No more standing at a stop, wondering when it will come and where it will go. Making a query automatically finds the next bus, because Google Transit factors in the time that the request is made.

Tell Google Transit where you're heading and what time you need to be there. It takes care of the rest. Complete with route numbers, times, and if you'll need to do any walking.It is also possible to use the system at home to plot a trip: For example, if I need to get from my house in Irondequoit to my office in Fairport by 9:00 a.m., it can quickly tell me that RTS Bus Route 3 leaves the intersection of Titus and Brookview at 7:01 and will take me downtown to Broad & Exchange, where the Route 21 bus leaves at 7:49 and gets me to Fairport at 8:12… Forty-eight minutes early! Okay, so our bus system isn’t perfect… The point is, I’ve lived in Rochester for 15 years, and thanks to Google, I’m now riding the bus with great confidence. Look ma, no hands!

Going out of town? Google Transit and the Transit Layer (shown above) are now available in hundreds of cities worldwide. From NYC to Tunisia.What’s even cooler is Google Transit is now compatible with hundreds of cities external link across the planet. So whether you’re staying in Rochester, exploring the London Tube, or vacationing in Tunisia, Google’s got a map for that.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 at 9:22 pm and is filed under Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “‘Google Transit’ Tames Rochester’s Baffling Bus Schedules”

  1. Jay Partyka says:

    I use this on my Motorola Droid all the time. I use GPS to pinpoint where I am, punch in where I want to go (like “Village Gate Square”) and it will tell me where the nearest bus stop is and which buses I need to grab to get there.

  2. admin says:

    @Jay, some transit authorities even have real-time tracking of their buses as a Google Maps overlay so you can see exactly where your bus is. Any idea if RTS is working on this?

  3. Bob says:

    That feature has been “in the works” since I’ve been going to RTS town meetings, so over a year. I’d imagine it will be complete at the same time as the Automatic Stop Announcement System is complete.

    To be completely fair, the bus I rode from Main/Clinton to the Design Center for the J.R. Smith roundtable had this feature active. I was impressed. I get the feeling that, like the sign outside of RTS headquarters, this was a beta release. The 500 series buses seem to have the equipment required for this. The vast majority of 1200′s and 700′s need new displays and driver GPS modules integrated.

    Anyway, thanks much for the mention! Did you know you can get dropped off at the front door of the Lilac Festival without changing buses from your house? Sound like something your daughter would like?

  4. admin says:

    @Bob, you were the inspiration for this post. You’re right, it is a straight shot from my house to the Lilac Festival which is pretty cool. Although I would take the #5 as my house isn’t the one I’ve shown in the illustration. My real house is right on the #5. I don’t want mobs of Subway fans at my doorstep.

  5. admin says:

    In recognition of Bike Week I should also mention you can get directions for biking and walking too.


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