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January 28, 2010

Circulator trip planner doesn't plan on Circulator

Greater Greater Washington points out that Baltimore's new Charm City Circulator has a trip planner on its web site, linked to Google Transit, that doesn't include trip-planning data for the Circulator itself.

If you ask it to plan a theoretical route from the 500 block of South President Street to Hollins Market, the trip planner send  you there via the Maryland Transit Administration's No. 10 bus. That's awfully generous, but you'd think the Circulator's free Orange Route could at least be listed as an option.

Along with brochures that touted two routes  that have yet to be launched, a mistake that has reportedly been fixed, this is another example of the not-yet-ready-for-prime-time nature of the  city's free shuttle. Let's hope City Hall can get the bugs worked out before the new routes are launched and the the prime tourism season begins in the spring. Until then, the trip planner should be taken down from the site or be given the appropriate disclaimers.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:28 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: City bus service
        

Comments

The Google Maps public transit feature requires the respective transit administrations to submit their data for Google's geographic database. The website for that is:

http://maps.google.com/help/maps/transit/partners/

It's possible the city already submitted the data and it's simply awaiting approval from Google, but that is where they need to go if they haven't yet. Also of note: Howard County Transit is not a part of the database either.

The brochure snafu has been fixed; current brochures show the green and purple lines as "coming soon."

One important complaint: if you Google search "Baltimore Ciruclator", the official website is on the second page of results. They need some serious SEO on their website.

For such a simple route you really don't need Google Transit anyway. It will just confuse people because it will list every MTA bus and (eventually) the Circulator. I'd say the city should just include a simple Circulator bus stop locator, since there are limited stops. In other works: Keep it Simple.

The best resource not attached to the site is www.NextBus.com. It lists the stops and how long you have to wait for the next bus. Howard Transit and WMATA are also listed on the NextBus site.

Mike -- fair's fair. the site contains an error (more than one, i'm sure...we'll get it fixed....just like we fixed the maps in less than 24 hours once it was pointed out. how about a little credit for responsiveness???)

But seriously...the context of the Greater, Greater Washington article was 98% about about how WMATA isnt even on Google Transit yet -- 3 years after Google Transit was launched. We've been running three weeks. Cut us a little slack, would ya?

and how about the reporting on ridership? did you miss that news release? Projected average dauily ridership for first few months was 800 or so. We're already averaging 1200+. And we're meeting the 10 minute headway, too.

Ready for prime time? Baltimoreans should hop on and decide for themselves.

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.
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