Google gets public transport; maybe some bugs

Google has finally incorporated public transport into its Sydney mapping, and it is lovely; although there may be some small problems.

It works just as you’d expect, you type in starting point and destination and the time you want to leave by or arrive by, that’s all there is to it. The results come up showing you the next available options complete with map and lists. Really it could not be simpler.

The main question that went through my mind when I saw this was whether it would replace www.131500.com.au which I use constantly both on my computer and on my iPhone.  On its face I’m as likely to use the Google version as the official 131500 site, perhaps more so as I use Google maps a lot and so I probably would have a preference for staying with them if I was going somewhere new. There are some differences though. The 131500 site seems to give a few more options for routes than Google does and 131500 also tells you which platform to use which is really useful. It’s also not clear if Google will have access to the current information that 131500 displays if there is a problem on the track or a delay.

There may also still be some bugs in the Google application. When I tried getting directions from North Sydney Station to Kirrawee Station some strange things occurred. On the computer and my iPhone Google insisted on putting in a six minute walk to the North Sydney Station from a nearby conveyancing company for no reason I could see – unless it’s the most subtle form of advertising known to mankind. On my iPad, Google simply refused to recognise that Kirrawee and North Sydney were different stations and popped up an error message saying “Cannot provide directions to and from the same location.” As I said recently when reviewing another mapping app, there’s really nothing more important than accuracy when you’re looking for directions – so these errors, even though they are minor, are a little concerning.

That said, overall the Google facility looks great and seems to work. Right now I’ll probably be sticking with 131500, but I’ll be watching developments on the Google front closely.

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