Montrealers will now be able to plan their public transit routes using Google Maps.
The well-known search engine has integrated departure information for bus, metro, and train service for Montreal, Laval, and the South Shore, allowing users to access routes and times for the quickest public transportation between two points.
Google Maps is a user-friendly system that many Internet users are familiar with, said Marianne Rouette, a spokesperson for the Société de transport de Montréal (STM).
“The reactions were very positive,” said Rouette. “It’s a very well-known tool.”
The system, which can also be accessed on cell phones with an internet connection, will run in conjunction with the STM’s long-standing trip planning system, Tous Azimuts which has been around since 1997. The STM updates Tous Azimuts daily with route and time changes, such as those due to construction, parades, and protests. Google Maps’ schedules are only updated four times a year, when the STM changes its schedules seasonally.
“Tous Azimuts has the operational times; Google Maps has the planned times,” said Rouette.
Tous Azimuts will be equipped with many of the features of Google Maps when it is upgraded to its fourth version in January, according to Bruno Allard, a research associate at the Groupe Madituc of l’École Polytechnique de Montréal – a transportation planning research group that develops and maintains the trip planning software for transit systems both on and off the island.
“Version four will integrate the data from all the systems,” Allard said, adding that data from intercity transportation, such as buses from Montreal to Quebec City, should be added sometime in 2009.
In January, Tous Azimuts will add search tools for addresses, intersections, postal codes, and some named locations, upgrading the system far from its original incarnation on the then-new STM web site.
“It was one of the first systems in the world at the time,” said Allard.
Both trip planners are avaialble at stm.info/English/azimuts/a-index.htm, and a bilingual YouTube video demonstrating the use of transit on Google Maps is at maps.google.ca/montreal.