Improving Google Transit

I love Google Transit - I think it is one of the best Google features since the original Google Maps - and I'm fortunate to be in a city that has handed their data over to Google (I sympathize with the folks that aren't so lucky). Google Transit does have one major flaw, however - it doesn't have the option of bike + transit combos.

(from flickr user karenwithak)

Say I want to go someplace that is farther away than I'd like to bike for the full trip, but using transit requires multiple transfers to get to my destination. A good example for me would be if I wanted to go from school to work. The trip is about 9.5 miles by bike.

When I enter the details, Google gives me three options for getting there via transit, but none of them are particularly appealing. The quickest option (1 hour and 9 minutes) requires me to take a bus, then a light rail, then another bus. That's a three seat ride with two transfers, enough to make even the most dedicated transit rider cringe.

But if I had my bike... I could easily ride to the light rail, take my bike on the train downtown, and then ride the rest of the way to the office. The total travel time would be less than if I exclusively used transit, but would be less exhausting than biking the whole way.

Now, Google Transit technically gives me enough information to figure this out on my own. If I really wanted to exercise this option, I could just ignore the bus rides that I don't want to take - but it would be nice to have the bike + transit combo given explicitly, if nothing more than for the sake of convenience. Plus, it's always nice to know all of your options.