Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Getting there

It is great having access to more and more route planners. The free Google products, my new GPS with European road maps etc.

However, unless you live in an area covered by Google Transit, Google only helps with planning routes for car drivers. My last car was turned over in the Brixton riots in the 1980's and caught fire soon after while driving past Downing Street. So Google's planners are only useful to me on the rare occasions when I hire a car or get a lift.

My Garmin has a route planner that allows you to specify (from an inconveniently deep menu) Pedestrian, Cyclist etc. which is a bit more useful ..... at least I can plan a walking route that keeps me off main roads.

With private transport having such a high environmental and geo-political cost, the time has come for public transport route planners.

Take London for instance, Rail, Tube, Bus, Tram & Ferry all run under the auspices of Transport for London. Even bus stops have a display telling you which buses are on their way and how long they will take to arrive. TfL have a nice little planner online, but it could go much further.

If a combination of routes, timetables and live-tracking data could be made available to GPS-based devices, public transport route planing would become a reality.

Imagine your hand-held GPS being able to warn you : "If you don't leave home in 5 minutes you will miss your bus and be 15 minutes late for work". Or your in-car GPS on nearing a Tube station on your route, telling you how much money and carbon dioxide you'd save by parking here and taking public transport.

Why stop at London, I'd like to see this for the whole UK, or any region that has a reasonably well integrated public transport system.

If halting the effects of global warming requires concerted action from every individual, then we individuals need to tools to help us do that. Smart public transport route planning could be one of those tools.

Food for thought, Mr Livingstone ?

1 comment:

Gregor J. Rothfuss said...

You could always lobby your local transport agency to release their data in the transit feed format, for Google and others to consume.