12 November 2008

Taking the bus just got easier (thanks to Google)

I've always thought that time passes slowest when you are waiting for the bus. Seconds seem to become minutes; you know you are on a frequent route but until you see the bus or train on the horizon the second hand can't move fast enough. If only you could know exactly when the next bus is coming!

Well, now you can. This summer, MetroTransit launched a tool called "NexTrip" which tracks every bus and train by GPS to tell when they are coming (in real time for the next 20 minutes, scheduled departures thereafter). You can access this information in many ways, including on the MetroTransit website or by calling 612.373.3333, which has live support during the day and automated schedules 24 hours a day (keep pressing 1 when prompted to get the automated schedules).

But perhaps the best way to get the information is on Google Maps. The Twin Cities are now one of several cities in the country where every single bus stop is shown if you zoom in, and if you click on a bus stop, it shows all upcoming departures. Any bus in the Twin Cities. How cool is that?

Here's an example, showing the HOURCAR hub at the Wedge in Minneapolis. If you click the "view larger map" link below and go to Google Maps, you can click on either of those two bus stops to see upcoming trips. It makes taking the bus that much easier; and HOURCAR is there for you when the bus or a bike or your own two feet need a breather.

View Larger Map

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