Saturday, February 14, 2009

This would be like Google Maps or MapQuest, but it would find directions using Public Transportation routes instead of automobile routes. It would have electronic links to the routes and schedules of buses, trains, and cabs all over the country.

The merits of using public transportation are many: less congestion on roadways, lower carbon emissions and fuel consumption, energy independence, etc; but navigating the various systems can be very challenging - especially for newbies and out-of-towners. A universal, nationwide interface to tie it together would certainly be a boon. Such a web service could be programmed into a mobile/iphone application for greater convenience. The web service could generate revenue by linking to advertisements and listings for local restaurants and establishments along the routes on which people are finding directions.

This is an idea that Brent Robbins and I created a mini business case for and presented in the St. Louis University "Idea 2 Product" competition in 2007.

There are now similar services, like the Trip Planner on the Portland public transit website, or HopStop for select cities.

CATEGORY: Transportation / Socioeconomic / Business Idea
IDEATION: November 28, 2006.


  1. Totally awesome. Google maps does that for some areas, but it's not widespread at all - I really wish more public transit systems would get involved. One thing I feel like I've been learning lately is that the availability or presence of information can radically influence people's behavior - simply making public transit system information more available and salient could cause a significant bump in usage.

  2. Another great idea, Dave. And I agree with your comment, Jon. A lot of people agree that defaulting to public transport in areas where it's available is great, but the effort involved in figuring out the necessary info is prohibitive.

    There are sites something like that in Seoul (where the public transit systems are excellent), but not one that overlaps subways and buses.

    The subway one is pretty nice though. It even tells you the best car and door number to be at in the event you need to transfer lines.

  3. Great point, Jon. I completely agree.

    Google maps had walking routes for awhile which was great! I found it while trying to map a bike route to work (an unsuccessful endeavor as all routes were completely uphill and I would arrive drenched in sweat). This option might still be available on Google, but they may have switched the way the the material was presented; it no longer catches my attention.

    Great idea with public transit! Make it happen, Dave.

  4. This service is obviously widely available now.