Google Transit and ‘Dillos

Google has been teaming up with public transit authorities around the country; I just read on Austinist that they’ve gotten the Austin Capital Metro database in, so you can now plan your public transit bus trip complete with maps and walking guides. Just in time for SXSW! Awesome! Here’s an example: the route from my hotel to the BlogHer meetup.

Unfortunately they don’t cover Boston for when I get home—good luck with that mess! There are also some caveats for public transit noobs like me. The last time I rode a bus was when I was living as a non-Chinese speaking kid in Taiwan, and I used to memorize routes by landmarks and cross my fingers. I had a few scary (for a kid) adventures, and as a result I have the tendency to over-prepare my travel plans as an adult. So here’s what I learned the hard way as a kid:

  • The return trip may not be the same bus or road
  • There are alternate bus routes. Google Transit just picks what it thinks is the best one, and I’ve noticed small differences in how it picks the starting bus stand on the route. Nothing big.
  • Buses tend to have hours of operation, so best check what they are. I am still looking into this.

Capital Metro, the city transit authority, also runs these free trolleys called the ‘Dillo, which I may ride today to just get a feel for the city if I don’t run into someone first. This is the first time I’ve arrived early enough in a city to explore it. According to this map I grabbed from the hotel lobby, the following Dillo routes seem to cover the nearby area:

  • 470 – Tour the Town – Goes as far north as the university of Texas (21st St), circles the State House along the way, and then comes back down south over the river on Congress Ave to “Spyglass Road”, whatever that is.
  • 450 – Orange ‘Dillo
  • 451 – Silver ‘Dillo
  • 455 – Red ‘Dillo
  • 461 – Gold ‘Dillo
  • 462 – Blue ‘Dillo
  • 463 – Starlight ‘Dillo

So grab the maps and schedules and go for a ride!