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Google Transit’s Lone Star Agenda

March 5, 2009

Google Transit Map of DallasI was looking at a Google map of Dallas (don’t ask), and to my dismay I discovered that Google had gone to great lengths to make the region’s DART light rail system navigable using their map program. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for the good prople of Dallas and all, but why did Google see fit to skip over Los Angeles?

Google Transit has not exactly been kind to our fair city. Many of our rail lines are “light rail”, which Google maps has determined should be marked by a symbol half the size of the “official” subway lines, and only visible after zooming in two levels beyond the level at which official subways are visible. I would be more accepting of this standard if Google applied it equaly to all “light rail” lines. However, Boston’s Green Line is considered to be light rail too, and yet it gets the official subway symbol. Even St. Louis, whose entire light rail system has less ridership than the Blue Line, gets the more visible subway symbol. Dallas’s light rail system is for some reason classified as “commuter rail”, which gets a symbol even more visible than the subway symbol.

In addition, Dallas now has those nifty lines connecting stations, so that the DART looks like an actual train system instead of a pile of meaningless dots. The line system has also been implemented by Google Maps in Atlanta, Chicago, Portland, and of course, San Francisco. In fact, all BART stations get their own special logo on Google maps, instead of the standard bland “M” insignia of most stations.

In fairness, I’ve heard that implementing Google transit takes a considerable amount of coordination between transit authorities and Google, so that may be slowing the process down. But it still would be nice if they would show our rail system a bit more respect by giving it a larger symbol, like they did for St. Louis and Dallas. C’mon Google, I know anti-SoCal sentiment is the status quo up there, but it would be nice if you broke free of that and made LA’s Metro a bit easier to navigate on Google maps.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. riffic permalink
    March 6, 2009 7:07 am

    This is the Los Angeles MTA’s fault, not Google’s.

  2. Drew permalink*
    March 6, 2009 9:55 am

    I’m aware that getting full Google transit coverage is a lot of work, I noted that in the article. However, I suspect Google could change the size of its “light rail” map icons without the consent of the MTA. The Blue Line is the second busiest light rail line in the country, after Boston’s Green Line, which gets a full-sized icon. And the fact that they put the BART logo on bay area stations borders on favoritism.

  3. July 8, 2009 11:07 pm

    Remember, about Google Transit, it’s the transit agency that decides on participating. It’s not Google playing favorites.

    Metro had been vacillating because it wanted to develop parallel, proprietary software that it had hoped to integrate with something that would pop up advertisements near routes.

    Google asks that agencies first agree to its terms of service, and second, that it feed Google Transit the data automatically. This is something that cannot be crowdsourced, since Metro won’t release schedules far ahead in time for people to code them up properly.


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