MBTA Trip Planner

tsign.jpgBoston’s public transportation system just got an awesome new tool. It is a web-based trip planner that works just like MapQuest driving directions—only instead of driving directions, you get directions by bus, train, and foot. You input a departure time (sadly, no option for desired arrival time), and the trip planner uses official bus and train schedules to figure out the fastest way to go.

The system has gotten mostly lukewarm press since its initial buggy launch on December 15. But I found it to work extremely well. It inspired me enough to order a CharlieCard for the first time. We’ll see how much I actually use it.

If the MBTA does add wireless access, email alerts, and real-time GPS bus location data to the system as promised, Boston’s public transportation will become dramatically more convenient. Imagine if there were a button you could push on your cell phone that would tell you (using your phone’s GPS location) how long before the next bus would arrive at the nearest bus stop. What about an application that would send your cell phone a text message at the exact time when you should pick up and leave your office because the bus for your commute home is five minutes away up the street? There may come a time when we see a virtuous cycle of increased convenience leading to increased ridership leading to increased routes and schedules, etc.

The new web site was built by RDVO, a Massachusetts company, at a cost of $400,000. That is a lot of money for a web site, even for a $1.3 billion enterprise like the MBTA. But in this age of global warming, I feel strongly that the new site is a step in the right direction. Perhaps other cities that do not have a system like it can benefit from the investment Boston has made.

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One Response to “MBTA Trip Planner”

  1. paulperry Says:

    Looks good, and better than Hopstop .

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