Since I live in the Washington DC metropolitan area, I was naturally interested to see the announcement on the Official Google Blog that route and schedule information for public transportation here had been added to the Transit component of Google Maps.
In partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), we’re adding all of D.C.’s Metro and bus stations, stops and routes, as well as connections to other transit systems in nearby cities.
Directions are available through the standard version of Google Maps, and also through Google Maps for Mobile.
I have not previously paid much attention to the transit information that Google Maps had, since it didn’t apply to where I live now. The addition of the DC information has prompted me to take a look at it, as well as the information for New York City and Boston, both cities that I know well. I think the integration of the data with the overall Maps capability is impressive. Requesting directions produces the obvious routes one might pick from looking just at the transit system map, but it also produces routes that might be quicker, or less congested, that involve, for example, a short walk between stations.
The main Transit page has a list of cities for which Google has data, although many of these outside the US are “Transit layer only”, meaning that the transit routes are shown with the local map. It’s potentially a very valuable part of the Maps service, especially if you are going to someplace new.