CTA riders can now use Google Maps as an alternative to the RTA Trip Planner for generating travel itinerary. While not yet officially announced by either CTA or Google, the agency’s bus and rail schedule information has recently appeared on the Google mapping service.
When zooming in on Chicago in Google Maps, users can now see icons representing every bus stop in the CTA system. Clicking the icon will display a list of all buses serving the stop along with scheduled departure times. Pre-existing icons for rail stations also now display scheduled departure information for each line serving the station.
Trip itinerary can be generated by visiting Google Transit and inputing a start and end address. Google will then generate multiple route alternatives with detailed directions incorporating a combination of bus, rail, and walking when appropriate. Each route also displays the estimated travel time and the total fare required (along with an estimated comparison to driving cost).
The ability to obtain transit directions will eventually be available directly through the Google Maps interface using a “take public transit” option when generating traditional driving directions. However, at this time this option does not appear to be implemented.
Chicago joins a growing list of cities that offer their public transit data on Google Maps. Transit agencies can add their data to the service free of charge by providing specially formated files to Google.
CTA riders may not want to delete their bookmarks to the RTA Trip Planner just yet–transit data for Pace and Metra is not available on Google Maps. It is not known if either agency has plans to offer their data on the service.