As one who gets up early in the morning, takes the VRE train from the boondocks of Dumfries to the nerve center of Alexandria, VA, and then hops the DASH bus for the rest of the ride to Phase2’s swanky offices along the Potomac, I’m a big fan of what I call “just in time transit.” I’m usually fortunate enough to just make my connections without a long wait on the platform — very nice when temperatures are in the 30s and you’re trying to type with freezing fingers.
While I certainly have my route and schedule for trips between home, the office, and back again memorized, the challenge is planning what to do when on-site client meetings come up. For a guy like me who refuses to drive in this traffic nightmare we call Northern Virginia, I can attest that options for planning routes via local transit has been spartan at best. Until now.
This week, Alexandria’s DASH Bus routes were integrated onto Google Maps, and trip planning on this side of the Potomac has never been easier. By including pubic transit as an option in my point-to-point itineraries, Google will not only show the best route on the map, but will tell me where the nearest stop is, which bus to hop, and even when the next one is coming. It tells you how long each leg of the trip will take and even suggests alternate routes when they’re available. Callouts on the map include “next” links that step you through each transfer point with all the specifics. As one who has been working a lot with the Google Maps API for enhanced callout development in recent months, the geek factor is great!
According to CommuterPageBlog, Baltimore’s MTA, Fairfax CUE, Loundon County Transit and Morgantown’s Mountain Line Transit Authority are available as well, so the whole of Washington Suburbia is gettin’ on the train — the train of Google Maps, that is. Now only if DASH would accept free transfers from VRE holders like Metrobus. But that’s another issue for another day.