Friday, October 31, 2008

Getting around Montréal, past and present

Montréal has always been a great city for public transportation. In a way, it's responsible for my love of public transit. One of my earliest memories is of riding the bus around Montréal with my grandparents. They didn't have a car; in Montréal, they didn't need one. I still remember how excited I was waiting to ring the bell for our stop. I was so short that I had to stand on the seat to reach for it. Montréal's extensive network of buses and trains taught me that public transit can make our cities more interesting, human, and convenient places to live. Now, in San Francisco, I ride a bike and commute to Google by BART and AC Transit, and I work on the transit trip planning feature in Google Maps as my 20% project.

Like San Francisco, New York City, and a growing number of cities, Montréal now has transit trip planning in Google Maps. I'm so excited that you don't have to be a local to figure out how to get around. You can now use Google Maps to find out whether your hotel is near a metro stop (it probably is!), what the best time is to catch a train into the city from Longueuil, or how to get from Laval to the Bell Canada Centre for a hockey game. It's OK if you don't speak French: Google Maps works in both of Canada's official languages. And Spanish. And Chinese. And many others.

For many months, the AMT, STM, STL, RTL, and fourteen CITs all worked together to share their routes and schedules with Google Maps, using the common GTFS feed format. And it just so happens that today, the day we finally launch, is my birthday. For a transit geek like me, this launch is a pretty fantastic present.

Montréal is a little like Europe, and a little like North America, and a lot like Canada, and there is no other place like it in the world. I hope this news helps encourage you to plan a trip there someday -- this video can help show you how:

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