22 November 2008

New Google Public Transport Info Sucks!

Got my iPhone 2.2 software loaded and thought I'd check out some of the new features.

I haven't been able to get Google Street View to work yet for London, but I did come to try the new travel directions feature. Unfortunately the results are embarrassing - for Google, and I think this needs a lot more work on it.

Here's what I got for a simple route from Piccadilly in London to Battersea SW11. It's a route of about 4.5km or just under 3 miles, walkable in about 55 minutes. A single London bus (19) will do the journey in (hopefully) about half that time.

Google's instructions were as follows:
1. Walk 1.1km to Hyde Park corner (fair enough).
2. Take the 702 bus towards Ascot but getting off at Victoria station - 1 stop on. (For my American friends this journey is like getting on a greyhound bus in Manhattan and going 5 blocks down 5th Avenue).
3. Get the the 025 bus towards Eastbourne (a town on the south coast), but getting off at Gatwick airport.. Note, no suggestion about the much faster train service from exactly the same place also to Eastbourne and also stopping at Gatwick airport. Gatwick airport is about 25-30 miles from central London.
4. Now take the airport bus from South terminal to north terminal!.
5. Get a bus EB4 from Gatwick to Fulham Broadway back in Central London.
6. Finally walk 2.4km to SW11 (total walk of 3.5km).

This public transport version which saves just 1km of walking, takes 3 hours and 15 minutes and appears to travel at least 60 miles! There is no cost given, but I suspect it is substantial.

Google claims (on it's website) to use the travelinesoutheast.org.uk data. However, using this service throws up several London bus routes (though not the best ones). It would seem that Google has ignored 98% of the available alternatives (including all London buses, and all trains).

A year ago, we used a government service to find the best route to drive to Hastings on the south coast, and it threw up a route going via Ashford and over 90 miles in distance. The direct route (which google itself gave) was around 55 miles. The government site then added further futility by suggesting speed should be no more than 55mph to limit CO2 emissions! Sure, your CO2 emissions might be 10% less than they would have been, but their stupid route would have increased it by 50% over what it should have been anyway!

It seems we've still got a way to go in making these services useful. I'd hate to see what a tourist would have done with Google's information, and I'm glad I use my bike to get around London.

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17 November 2008

New Forest Donkeys waiting for bus

Just got back from a brief trip to the New Forest which despite being grey and rainy was still spectacular. I can certainly recommend the New Park Manor Hotel and Spa which - on a Sunday night deal - is great value. But my favourite moment is captured here (trying a new camera incidentally as well) while cycling round the area.

I'll definitely be heading back for a spring visit with hopefully better light.

Funny thing is nobody had told the donkeys that the bus doesn't run on Sundays!