Thursday, July 30, 2009
For my thirteenth birthday, one of my aunts gave me a gift I won't soon forget: a day in Boston. I grew up north of the city and, as a child, often visited the Museum of Science, Newbury Street, the Swan Boats, and elsewhere with my family, but my aunt's gift acknowledged the maturity and meaning associated with becoming a teenager. On a Saturday morning, she drove my cousin and me to Alewife Station and handed us MBTA tokens (there were no Charlie Cards at the time).
From that point on, I must have spent time nearly every weekend heading into Boston, riding the Commuter Rail from my hometown of Andover to North Station. In high school, the T carried me to concerts in Central Square and Kenmore Square. When I studied at Boston University, the Green Line ran through our main corridor, and again and again the trolleys, subways, and buses transported me around town. Like any regular public-transit commuter, I witnessed delays, congestion, and post-snowfall on-board slushiness, but the overall benefits of public transportation far outweighed any of those grumblings. To this day, whenever I'm home, after morning coffee with my dad, I take the MBTA into the Google Boston office in Kendall Square.
Now, all those routes that I -- and millions of other riders -- have traveled over the years can be planned with Google Maps. Today at South Station, we accompanied the Massachussetts Bay Transportation Authority to announce the availability of the MBTA's commuter rail, subway, bus, and ferry schedules through Google Transit, joining nearly all major U.S. transit agencies and more than 400 cities around the world in making their transit data available.
For locals and visitors alike, Google Transit makes it easier to search and discover public transportation options that get them into, around, and out of Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Quincy, Somerville, and the surrounding areas -- or to travel to and from other MBTA-linked cities like Brockton, Gloucester, Lowell, Providence, and Worcester.
One of the great benefits of Google Transit is that it helps people discover the availability of public transit by showing a MBTA itinerary as an alternative to driving directions in Google Maps. But when you know that public transit is your first choice, you can also head to maps.google.com/transit for a complete trip planner, accessible both from your web browser and your mobile phone. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Don't worry about parking (and parking costs) when going to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park
- Consider taking public transport to and from Logan International Airport
- Navigate your way to one of Boston's municipal courts when summoned for jury duty
- Spend a summer afternoon, when the weather invites, at Carson Beach, Revere Beach, or Singing Beach
- If you're one of the many students moving to Massachusetts for college in the fall, test the best transit routes in advance so you'll feel like a local expert upon arrival
- Scope out 360-degree street-level views of the bus and subway stops in advance of your trip, using Street View
Google Transit also connects the MBTA's services with other local agencies already on Google Transit, like Lexington Lexpress, the MetroWest Regional Transity Authority, and Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, so it's easier to know where and when these services connect.
The Transit team here at Google appreciates all those who have been part of bringing public transit data to Google Maps in the region, such as the high-school student who worked to get the Lexpress on board, the "Put the MBTA on Google Transit!!!" Facebook group, and of course the team at the MBTA involved in making this happen. We all have our memories of coming and going, and I'm certain there are people of all ages in and around Boston who realize there's a city waiting for them to explore. Visit maps.google.com/boston to get started.