SEPTA passengers and city programmers alike have reason to celebrate.
The region’s transportation organization announced today that it has integrated its trip planning services with Google Transit and that it will give third-party developers access to location and scheduling data, as reported earlier.
The first phase of SEPTA’s Google Transit offering provides route planning automated by Google for its Regional Rail, Market Frankford El, trolley routes and Norristown high-speed services. Users can enter a start point and a destination and are quickly returned directions that utilize Philadelphia’s public transportation system.
“Google Transit will help us introduce SEPTA and the convenience of using public transit when visiting our destinations in the city and the region,” SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey told members of the press on the Mezzanine level of SEPTA headquarters on East Market Street earlier today.
SEPTA plans to integrate the city’s sprawling bus lines in a second phase launch later this year, after it geo-maps 15,000 route locations. It hopes to become the first U.S. transit agency to make all of its methods of transportation available on Transit.
The developer specifications, formatted in Google’s open location and scheduling standard Google Transit Feed Specification, are already available at http://septa.org/developer.
SEPTA spokesman Brian Anderson told Technically Philly that for now, only a download is available.
“We don’t have the resources to create a developer community,” he said. An RSS feed on the developer site will keep coders up-to-date with new offerings, including the second phase bus data.
In addition to the Google Transit service, SEPTA will unveil real-time travel advisory alerts powered by Twitter later this week, and a real-time schedule building tool for Regional Rail riders in “several weeks.” That service, called “Next to Arrive,” will allow users to enter a train station and see the next four scheduled trains and their real-time travel status.
Google Transit integration was completed free of cost with the collaboration of Google and will work in conjunction with SEPTA’s current Trip Planner offering.
City Councilman Bill Green demonstrated the new service on his black iPhone 3G in front of onlookers at the media event. “It tells me what buses to take to what trains to what trolleys. I just follow those directions and I get there quickly and efficiently,” he said.
Green said this is only the beginning of city initiatives that are part of an effort to attract broadband stimulus grants that will make government data available to developers to create applications.
“SEPTA is getting there first,” he quipped.
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