Metro Transit vs Google Transit

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by Erica Mauter | March 30, 2009 • Says Abigail Garner:

Google Maps “public transit” feature rocks! Superior to “trip planner” at metrotransit.org. Cleaner, better maps, all-around easier to use.

Gauntlet thrown.

vs

To compare, I tried to find transit directions at both sites from my current home address in Eden Prairie to my former apartment address in Uptown. On both sites, I entered the addresses in the following format: street number, city, state.

Metro Transit didn’t recognize my home address at all and gave me a list of thirty or so intersections to choose from. Only one was even in Eden Prairie, most of them were in Bloomington and half of them were duplicates of each other. So I couldn’t even get transit instructions from Metro Transit.

fresh.mn is a cityblog for and about life in the Twin Cities, published by Erica Mauter. Contact erica@fresh.mn

Google immediately gave me three options with different departure times, complete with mapped out walking directions, bus info, and a map of where the bus will go. One option included different walking instructions because of the time of morning when various bus routes actually run (options are limited in EP), so I’m sure that the route info Google gets from Metro Transit is accurate.

However, where Metro Transit has the upper hand is if you know a little about what bus you want to be taking. You can’t search by route in Google. Metro Transit’s NexTrip is a great (mobile-friendly) tool for finding out when to expect the next bus to arrive on a particular route at a particular stop.

From a sheer ease-of-use standpoint, I think the crux of the problem is identifying addresses in the first place. Metro Transit is really picky about addresses. Google Transit does a better job of translating what you enter and serves up an easier interface for you to clarify if it can’t.

Otherwise, it depends on how you’re using the service. For simple Point A to Point B, Google is probably the best choice. For more control in choosing between routes, stick to Metro Transit (and have patience).

Have you had cause to compare Google Transit to Metro Transit? Are you an experienced transit rider or is this new and scary to you? Thoughts?

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