Riding the bus just became easier in Stanislaus County.
The once arduous process of planning a route, requiring the consultation of maps from the county’s five separate bus systems, is now as easy as visiting maps.google.com.
“Now people don’t have to pull out two or three different schedules,” said Brad Christian, the county’s transit manager. “They can just punch in the address of where they’re coming from, where they’re going to, and it maps it all out. It makes it really easy.”
Bus riders can now visit Google Maps, input addresses, and receive step-by-step directions, maps, a calculation of costs, and even walking distances once disembarking the bus. Due to the Google Maps integration, that information is available both on computers and on mobile phones in more than 40 languages and for the visually impaired.
Schedules for Stanislaus Regional Transit, Ceres Area Transit, Modesto Area Express, the Bus Line Service of Turlock, and the Riverbank-Oakdale Transit Authority have all been added, allowing Google Maps to plot routes across the county. The web application can even leverage Stanislaus County bus data with that of other nearby public transportation systems – like San Joaquin County Regional Transit District and etrans in Escalon – to map routes across the state.
“That’s the advantage,” Christian said. “Theoretically, if everyone had it, you could schedule transportation from here to wherever.”
The countywide project to integrate local transit schedules into Google Maps has taken a little over a year, due to Google’s very specific formatting requirements, Christian said. The effort cost the county $50,000, including costs of updating the member bus systems’ websites. That money came by way of a federal grant, funded with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus dollars.
The county expects the investment to pay off, both for riders and for the bus systems.
“I’m hoping it will increase ridership and people will be better able to understand how they can get from Turlock to Modesto,” Christian said.
The new route planning system is available online at maps.google.com, www.srt.org, www.ci.ceres.ca.us/CeresAreaTransit/CAT.html, www.ModestoAreaExpress.com, www.blastbus.com, and www.rotabus.com.
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