Google Transit includes all Montreal transit networks

An eagle-eyed netizen tells me that Google’s Transit service, which allows you to choose “by public transit” when finding directions via Google Maps, has been updated to include route and departure information for the STM’s buses and metro.

For an example, here’s a route by public transit from Fairview Pointe-Claire (where all the anglos hang out, didn’t you know?) to The Gazette’s offices on Ste. Catherine St. downtown. (Et, bien sûr, c’est aussi disponible en français)

The service, which is also available in Vancouver, Ottawa, Fredericton and dozens of U.S. cities, and had previously included AMT train service (which was much easier since there are much fewer departures to put in a database), is effectively a competitor to the STM’s existing Tous Azimuts service, which although revolutionary when it was introduced is now over a decade old and doesn’t meet today’s usability standards. Google Transit is slicker, faster and easier to use.

Like Tous Azimuts, Google Transit suggests alternate routes, says how long they’ll take, and provides the time of departure and arrival of each bus or metro.

This is no simple undertaking. Google requires the transit agency to provide a database of all departures for all routes in a specific format. We’re talking thousands and thousands of departures here.

This might also make other third-party STM trip-planning services obsolete, as Google Maps becomes a must-have application for cellphones.

UPDATE: I’m told by a helpful reader below that this also includes off-island transit networks like the Société de transport de Laval and the AMT-administered CITs, but not the south shore RTL network yet RTL data just went live so it now includes all the networks.

UPDATE (Oct. 29): Google, the STM, STL, RTL and AMT are making the joint announcement today, 10am at Google’s Montreal HQ (1253 McGill College) (Thanks Jean). Google Transit has already been updated to list all the transit agencies in the area (thanks Dumitru).

Expect media coverage of the new service during the evening news. Some technology media are already covering it. UPDATE: more pieces from The Gazette, Branchez-Vous and RadCan. And Tristan Péloquin has some background about this project.

Google has also setup a special page with an introductory video in French and English, thought the English version has a British narrator and uses New York as an example.

21 thoughts on “Google Transit includes all Montreal transit networks

  1. Richardmtl

    Yay!!

    I’ve been waiting for this for so long!!!! You’re spot-on when you say that Tout_Azimuts is a creaky-old application. I guess they don’t have to update it anymore, ’cause Google the Saviour is here! :)

    (kidding about the Saviour part).

    Reply
  2. Fagstein Post author

    Even better would be if the STM just released the database for public consumption, so that people could develop their own applications to use it.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    La capacité de faire des calculs d’itinéraires qui utilisent les services de plusieurs organismes de transport rend l’outil pas mal intéressant. Dans ce cas, les réseaux de la MRC de L’Assomption, de la STM et du CIT Sud-Ouest sont utilisés.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&saddr=L'Assomption,+qc&daddr=Valleyfield,+qc&hl=en&geocode=&mra=ls&dirflg=r&date=10%2F24%2F08&time=8:00am&ttype=dep&noexp=0&noal=0&sort=&sll=45.713371,-73.432617&sspn=0.287669,0.725098&ie=UTF8&ll=45.722001,-73.475533&spn=0.143812,0.362549&z=12&start=0

    Reply
  4. Jonathan

    I really laughed out loud when I saw the french version of your link.

    I was like, “Euh, comment ça se fait que ça va dans l’est?”, and then I read the instructions. From what just-seems-to-be Galeries d’Anjou to what cannot-be-anything-else-than La Presse! Hahahaha! Well done, Fagstein!

    Reply
  5. controleman

    Pretty cool! But I can’t find how to choose at what time I wish to travel in bus. It tells you the bus stop number so it’s not that bad, but that’s a down for google..

    Reply
  6. Fagstein Post author

    Under the origin and destination on the left, click on “show options”. It allows you to choose either when you leave or when you arrive at your destination.

    Reply
  7. karine

    Wow thanks for the info. I really like google maps, so far it’s has been useful for me to plan out routes that avoid highways since I have a scooter. Tous Azimut is really painful to use though I did surprise myself the other day by doing a route with rather quickly though I doubt I do it again.

    Reply
  8. Alex

    Google hasn’t figured out rules for boarding and unboarding. For example, CIT Haut-St-Laurent cannot load or unload in Chateauguay for trips to/from Montreal. According to Google Transit, it’s possible.

    That being said, this seems to be a very good program and we should encourage the STM and other transit authorities to adopt and perfect this system.

    Alex

    Reply
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  10. Dumitru Erhan

    This is great news indeed :)

    What I’m waiting for is a combination of Street View + Transit + iPhone (with auto-location). I remember reading rumours somewhere about people spotting Google cars in MTL, so Street View this can’t be that far. Built-in transit directions on the iPhone are coming, apparently (http://www.engadget.com/2008/10/26/iphone-software-2-2-features-google-street-view-mass-transit-di/, although it was possible to get them on the device before that, using Safari). And auto-location already works with the iPhone Google Maps client so there is no reason why it won’t work with Transit.

    The G1 probably does all of these already. In any case, such a combo will definitely change the way I use public transportation (especially when travelling to other cities).

    Reply
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  12. Dumitru Erhan

    I nominate Fagstein to be our media liaison when Google Transit for Montreal launches officially so that he can ask if the data is going to be public (or ask someone to ask this question) :)

    My hunch is that with enough publicity, STM/AMT could actually do it. But it won’t be instantaneous, they would probably like to iron out the bugs in their feed first.

    Reply
  13. Jean Naimard

    Press release:

    Transmis par le Groupe CNW le : 27 Octobre 2008 13:29
    Invitation aux médias – Google Maps – Un nouvel outil pour voyager en transport collectif dans le Montréal métropolitain

    MONTREAL, le 27 oct. /CNW Telbec/ – MM. Joel Gauthier,
    président-directeur général de l’Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT), Claude Trudel, président du conseil de la Société de transport de Montréal (STM), et Mme Naomi Bilodeau, chef de produit / transport en commun, de Google, accompagnés de représentants de la Société de transport de Laval (STL), du Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL), des conseils intermunicipaux
    de transport de la région de Montréal vous invitent au lancement d’un nouvel outil Internet pour faciliter les déplacements en transport collectif.
    L’événement se déroulera le mercredi 29 octobre à 10 h dans les nouveaux locaux de Google, situés au 1253, avenue McGill College à Montréal.
    A cette occasion, une démonstration de l’outil en temps réel vous sera présentée.

    <>

    -30-

    /Renseignements: Martine Rouette, Conseillère en communication, AMT, (514) 287-2464, poste 4057; Isabelle A. Tremblay, Affaires publiques, STM, (514) 280-4940/

    Reply
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  15. Dumitru Erhan

    Transit for Montreal seems to have been updated with a nifty little feature:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=1010+sainte-catherine+ouest,+montreal,+qc&sll=45.513847,-73.59928&sspn=0.12895,0.30899&ie=UTF8&ll=45.500203,-73.572301&spn=0.002015,0.004828&z=18

    You can now see all the bus stops on a map (you just need to zoom in a bit for them to become visible). Moreover, if you click on a particular bus stop icon, it shows the upcoming departures and links to the corresponding STM website for the bus stop schedule.

    Weirdly, metro stations have “bus stop IDs” too.

    Reply
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