DASH Bus, Meet Google Maps - Part II, The Sequel

... hey, at least it's not a prequel or a franchise reboot.

Last time I blogged on Alexandria's mass transit schedules integrating with Google Maps. Great stuff in theory, but in reality, it's going to take a long time to shift the public mentality to say "Hmmm ... let me go to Google and research how I can create point-to-point directions for my itinerary." Mapquest still has the lion's share of brand recognition.

Claytor Butler
#API | Posted

... hey, at least it's not a prequel or a franchise reboot.

Last time I blogged on Alexandria's mass transit schedules integrating with Google Maps. Great stuff in theory, but in reality, it's going to take a long time to shift the public mentality to say "Hmmm ... let me go to Google and research how I can create point-to-point directions for my itinerary." Mapquest still has the lion's share of brand recognition.

Rather, it is going to become incumbent upon site owners to provide these kinds of point-to-point directions on their sites. Phase2 has just snazzed up the obligatory "Contact Us" page with embedded Google Maps transit info specifically designed to get the mass-transiters from The Metro to our front door without the need to call a cab, walk a couple of miles, or hop a mercurial shuttle that may or may not take you to the right building.

Google makes it easy enough to create these maps, so here's a primer.

  1. Go to Google Maps
  2. Click on "Get Directions."
  3. Figure out the closest rail or airport and set that as your "Point A." In our case we created one for "Braddock Road Metro Station" and one for "King Street Metro Station."
  4. Put your place of business as "Point B."
  5. Change the mode of transportation to "By Public Transit"

The resulting map should have overlays showing you the various public transit routes, if available. Then all you have to do is:

  1. Click "Link" in the blue toolbar over the map and
  2. Copy/Paste the link or the iFrame tag into your code as appropriate. "Customize and preview embedded map" will let you tweak the setting further, so you can modify things like height, width, and zoom level.
  3. Yank out the date and time values from the various URLs Google gave you in the last step and your map will actually update itself to display the next available route based on the current time. Once one bus passes, the next route will highlight.

What's needed now is a greater degree of automation and link generation for admins to plug these enhanced maps into their web sites. A module for CMS admins (think GMap) would be a good start. Barring that, simply creating a custom admin form with all the important variables and the ability to place the resulting URLs on a page like any other Google Map might suffice.

Claytor Butler