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Google Maps Public Transit in College Town of Davis

May 2, 2008

It just got even easier for people to use public transit to get around the college town of Davis, Calif. Riders of Unitrans, the student-run bus system that serves UC Davis and the city of Davis, can now use a convenient online service to plan their trips.

With Unitrans' participation, Davis becomes one of about 50 cities worldwide for which Google offers public transit information over the Web. In the same way that Google Maps provides driving directions between two points, Google Transit gives people detailed transit information -- including routes, schedules and bus stop locations -- for travel between their starting point and destination.

"We want to make it as easy as possible for people considering public transit as a way of travel," said Anthony Palmere, assistant general manager of Unitrans.

As part of its commitment to sustainability, UC Davis encourages students and employees to use public transit, bicycles and other transportation alternatives to single-occupant vehicles. Unitrans, which is largely run by UC Davis students, provides about 20,000 passenger rides on a typical day.

Unitrans offers route and schedule information on its Web site, and trip planning assistance is available by calling (530) 752-BUSS during regular business hours, Monday through Saturday. But Palmere said many people are more familiar with Google's mapping service.

The new service is available at http://maps.google.com/transit. "Take Public Transit" is also offered as an option when someone goes to http://maps.google.com and searches for driving directions between two points. It draws the recommended transit route on a city map and provides bus stops, schedule options and travel times.

Unitrans makes data available to Google through the Sacramento Regional Transit District as part of a regional coordination program, which is funded by a federal grant to the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

Palmere said the transit recommendations provided by Google are sound for simple trips, but more complex routing may introduce some glitches -- such as directing someone to walk across a freeway. He said Unitrans is providing feedback to Google, and the computer search programs are improving.

The Unitrans Web site at http://www.unitrans.com provides tips for using Google Transit, such as entering an intersection instead of the university's mailing address for directions to and from campus. Bus riders can also verify Google Transit information through Unitrans.

UC Davis has about 30,000 students and 26,000 employees at its facilities in Davis, Sacramento and elsewhere. Davis has a population of more than 64,000.

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