For all the things we can rightfully gripe at TriMet about (cutting bus service, hating babies), one thing Portland's public transit agency is stellar at is advancing trip planning technology. I take the online route-planning and phone-in Transit Tracker services for granted, until I visit other major cities (coughcoughLA) and get frustrated by their 20th century technology.
Behind every transit stop is a mountain of data and since 2005, TriMet has opened the door to that data to any tech-savvy person who wants to develop applications for transit riders. The result has put Portland at the forefront of user-friendly transit technology, including having over 30 privately developed TriMet mobile apps that the agency didn't pay a dime to create.
Over the weekend, TriMet launched a major new trip planning service—this one developed in-house with grants from Metro. The Regional Trip Planner is still in Beta (and definitely still a little buggy), but the idea is great: Instead of making you choose a route just by transit, the software lets riders plan trips the way they actually do—multi-modally. You can choose a bike plus transit option for the route, then arrange this funny triangle of of settings to your preference of quickest vs. safest vs. flattest.
Let's say I have my bike and I want to get from Casa Diablo vegan strip club in NW to Fubonn on SE 82nd Avenue.
The planner returns this map, which I found a little confusing (what are that bus and bike stuck together on 82nd Ave?) but eventually decipherable.
It gets me to Fubonn in 76 minutes, which is 22 minutes longer than it would take to just bike all the way there, according to Google Maps. Drats. At least I could read a book on the way, though.
Anyway, seems like a great resource! As someone who loves safety and hates biking up hills, allowing users to select routes by flatness is a very helpful.
Play around with it a little bit and report back on what works and what doesn't. In my attempts to navigate from the region's only vegan strip club to various locations, it wouldn't recognize addresses that were just intersections and had some weird pop-up windows that wouldn't go away. BETA. BETA.