All Aboard Google Transit

Google Traffic, Kingston Traffic, Kingston, OntarioOn February 9th, we confirmed that Google Streetview had finally arrived in the Limestone City.  Fast forward to July 16th, where the City of Kingston and the Internet search giant announced the latest development in their blossoming relationship: Google Transit. This add-on to Google’s feature-rich, online map application integrates Kingston Transit bus stops, routes, schedules, and fare information.  Surprisingly, Kingston is one of only 446 cities around the world who have supplied public transit information for inclusion in Google Transit.  While we may not be the earliest of adopters, at least we’ve beat London, Quebec City and Victoria to the public transportation party.  Okay it’s not a race, but if it were we’d be winning.

The City of Kingston made the formal announcement last week via press release, where Sheila Kidd, Director of Transportation Services, is quoted as follows:

We’re delighted to be able to partner with Google to offer this great trip plan option. Now, anytime anyone inputs Kingston destination information into Google and looks for directions, they will be offered Google’s Public Transit icon. Having our Kingston Transit information made so readily available will encourage more people than ever to plan to take the bus to their destination.

In addition, Jessica Wei, Strategic Partner Manager at Google added:

As part of Google’s commitment to develop useful public-private partnerships, we are pleased to welcome the City of Kingston to Google Transit. This partnership shows Kingston Transit’s commitment to innovating, serving their riders, and attracting new riders.

Google Transit is definitely a step in the right direction for Kingston Transit, as it offers improved functionality and integration in comparison to the City of Kingston’s online Trip Planner.  In addition, Google Transit is capable of providing directions in 12 different languages, which is great for foreign speaking visitors. To put this feature to the test, simply visit Google Maps, click on ‘get directions’ (top left), select the middle bus/streetcar icon to illustrate public transit options, then enter in your respective destinations.  It’s amazingly helpful to see how adjustments to departure dates and times impact the suggested bus route and transfers.  Sadly though, Kingston’s integration with Google Transit is missing the Wolfe Island Ferry schedule, which makes it less convenient for commuters transiting to and from the Island.

So what’s next for Google Maps and Kingston?  Hopefully the map of Limestone City will become even more useful with future additions such as live traffic cameras, traffic density patterns and bike lanes.  In the meantime, I’m optimistic that Google Transit will make it easier and perhaps cooler to get onboard Kingston Transit.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

7 thoughts on “All Aboard Google Transit

  • I think this is fantastic, I actually found out that Kingston had added the service by trying it on my android powered phone. It works very well and will certainly encourage me to use public transportation. Good on Kingston for stepping up to something like this. Traffic reports and better bicycle routing would be fantastic! Google is ready to offer up a whole lot of services for free, why shouldn't we take full advantage of them.

    • That's really neat that you found this with your mobile before seeing it elsewhere. Otherwise, I agree that the City needs to increase their visibility and accessibility via these free online tools. For a city our size, I can't imagine it would take far too long to input all the data required to make this application work properly. Hopefully KT ridership will actually see an increase as a result.

  • Google Maps shows a few live cameras in the Kingston area, but none of them are traffic related. The one focusing on the market behind City Hall is okay, but shows zero traffic. Perhaps the city should start with cams along the 401 and a few major intersections. They won't solve delays due to accidents, but it would give people a heads up as to what's going on out there. Lessen the shock and chances of someone diving headfirst into a traffic jam.

  • Getting Kingston to collaborate with Google for mapping has been like pulling teeth. It's at least five-years overdue.

    I recall a conversation with people in the City GIS department years ago and their attitude was, in effect, "we don't give our data or imagery to for-profit companies".

    Meanwhile they were WASTING pantloads of taxpayer money, hundreds of thousands of dollars, on ridiculously disfunctional systems like KMAPS for which the city, in collegial self-agreement, stil pats itself on the back. What a colossal waste.

    Meanwhile the City of Kingston is rudderless when it comes to IT. For example, here is what ONE PERSON did in ONE WEEKEND with publicly available data: A LIVE map of the London England Underground complete with source code if you want to extend it or re-use it elsewhere.

    That's with open-source philosophy and publicly available data, which Kingston doesn't provide yet. We are years behind on this front.

    A trip planner is one thing, but the real question is, where's my bus? How late is it? Do I have time to walk to the next stop, or duck-in to a store? The trip planner tells us, in many instances, all about a 1-hr bus trip that would take 45-minutes to walk. If you have to waste an additional 10-minutes to account for the arrival-time variance, you're no more likely to ever take a bus.

    So we have a trip planner! Welcome to 2005.

  • "In addition, Google Transit is capable of providing directions in 12 different languages, which is great for foreign speaking visitors."

    This feature is also useful for newcomers to Canada who settle in Kingston, as they often rely on public transit when they first arrive.

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