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September 26, 2006

Hey, Google! Running across Aurora is a bad idea

Posted by Kim Peterson at 10:14 AM

Google expanded its public transit trip planner to Seattle and four other cities last night. You can use the service, linked here, to find out how to get from one address to the other using buses in King County.

Metroblogging Seattle tried to use the service, saw that the Google trip required crossing six lanes of highway traffic.

I tried it from my house to work, which also requires a trip down Aurora, and found that Google asked me to exit the bus at Aurora and John Street, run across six lanes and a divider on Aurora and continue east down John to work. Google doesn't seem to realize that John Street ends for a block or two along the way before picking up again.

King County's trip-planning site offers a more sensible alternative that doesn't require scurrying across Aurora, though the trip requires changing buses and takes 35 minutes compared to Google's 24 minutes.

Maybe King County can get a new slogan out of this: "Slower than Google, but we won't kill you."

Oh and a point of clarification: In my story I said that Google compares the cost of your trip on public transit to what it would cost to drive there in a car. Google does this with Portland, where it first tested its service, but that feature doesn't seem to be available for Seattle. I have a call in to Google to find out why it's missing.

Update: Google told me this afternoon that there was a "data error" for Seattle that resulted in giving a small percentage of users accurate, but not optimal, route suggestions. The company expects to have this corrected by the end of the day. Also, the cost comparison feature is only available in certain cities, but Google is working with public transportation agencies to provide this data.

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