Thursday, December 08, 2005

Public transit via Google

Official Google Blog blogged One of the best things about working at Google is a policy known as "20 percent time," which you can read about on our jobs page or in this post. Having the freedom to pursue projects during 20 percent of our work week means engineers can pursue a breadth of unique and interesting ideas without having to wait for anyone else.

This is an interesting job perk. I wonder if other high tech companies will consider duplicating it.
So not too long ago, a few engineers from San Francisco, New York, and Zurich -- all of whom regularly use public transportation -- decided that being able to plan local trips without having to go to multiple websites, and done in an easy, intuitive way would be a useful product. So they devoted their 20 percent time to building it. As it happens, a lot of people thought this was a great idea, and our small team quickly grew with "twenty-percenters" from across Google.
It is also interesting to see how an ad hoc "Design Team" could develop under this 20% policy.
Today, we are happy and proud to tell you that their efforts have resulted in a new Google Labs experiment: Google Transit Trip Planner. With it, commuters will be able to easily access public transit schedules, routes, and plan trips using their local public transportation options. This first release covers only the Portland, Oregon metro area, but we are working to expand our coverage very soon.
I suspect it will be quite a while before they cover Tulsa, Oklahoma, but it is an interesting project, and even more interesting is how it was developed.
(If you're from a local transit agency interested in being included in Google Transit, we would love to speak with you. Just write to us.)

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