Dear Lifehacker, I travelled to Melbourne over the weekend, and fell in love with the city. I’m considering looking for work over there, but there’s one thing that irks me. The public transport system doesn’t have Google Maps integration. It’s incredibly frustrating, and while I know you did a story on it eight months ago, I’m wondering what the progress has been made on not having to use the horrible MetLink Journey Planner to work my way around the city. Any news? Thanks, Yarra Aspirant
The lack of public transport data integration into Google Maps is one of our most frequent complaints. While Perth, Adelaide and Canberra residents can look up directions on Maps and get accurate timetable data to plan a journey on public transport, that isn’t the case with Melbourne (or Sydney or Brisbane).
Unfortunately, in this case there seems to have been no substantial progress since last August, when we reported that the Public Transport Users Association had heard rumblings that the Victorian Department of Transport was finally going to make its timetable data available to Google for integration. Despite that promising beginning, nothing seems to have happened since. I checked in with the PTUA and they’re not aware of any progress. I’ve asked the department for comment, and I’ll update this post if I do hear something, but quite honestly I’m not holding my breath. Basic tram stop information does appear on Google Maps, but no timetable data has yet showed up.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of form for government departments to make promising noises about this and then do nothing. Back in 2010, TransLink in Queensland said that it would have maps integration for Brisbane public transport by the end of the year, but it’s 2012 and that still hasn’t happened. The blame for these delays lies squarely with state or metropolitan transit authorities, and frankly it seems ludicrous that they make it so hard for data to be shared with Google (or anyone else wanting to build a service offering public transport information). But after several years of uselessness across the East Coast, I’m not optimistic. I wouldn’t let that stop you moving to Melbourne; at least you can get accurate tram arrival information via the TramTracker site. But everything else is still in the “wait and see” basket.
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