Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Phil Young, Head of Online for Transport for London, one of the world’s biggest and most integrated metropolitan public transport systems. See what other organizations that have Gone Google have to say.
Each weekday, more than six million journeys are made on buses in London and over three million on ‘the Tube,’ as our 150-year-old underground system is affectionately called. Transport for London (TfL) oversees those transit systems -- as well as the trams, taxis, riverboats, the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme and the main roads throughout London. We are responsible for keeping London moving and growing and making life in the city better.
As part of a ground-up redevelopment of our increasingly popular website we are putting interactive mapping at the centre of our travel information to make it easier for travellers to see their options and get around faster than ever before. To do this, we’re introducing Google Maps for Business and Google Places API as part of our site to give customers one consistent, easy to use way of navigating around.
Our web services grew organically over time, resulting in over 70 different websites for the numerous services we offer. In 2007, we made a big step forward, visually integrating these sites with a common look and feel. Our website now receives over 250 million visits annually and the International Association of Public Transport named us the best public transport authority website in the world. But, there's still so much more we knew we could do to help our customers get from point A to point B and better integrate all of our work into one single site, with a load of new functionality.
TfL site in June and expect to go live with the final version early in 2014. One of the great things about the new site is that it uses responsive design to give a great experience on any device - mobile, tablet or desktop. We chose Google Maps for Business because it offers the best combination of usability, accuracy and user experience. It was the best tool to help integrate new functionality such as:
- Moving from five different map platforms to one comprehensive map
- Revamping our ‘Journey Planner’ with integrated Google Maps, which makes it really easy to use
- Integrating an ‘Interactive Roads’ tool that highlights areas affected by incidents or events on the map
- Adding a ‘Nearby’ feature, which shows real-time information on all the transport services that are around your current location. This includes arrival times of the next bus or train and even how many Barclays Cycle Hire bikes are available at any given docking station at that time.
We’ve built all of this around a single API which we’ll soon be sharing with developers as part of our open data portal. This will make it so much easier for new and improved smartphone apps to be created.
In 2014, we’ll move the site out of beta and begin to develop more personalised features, based on a single user login, to make planning journeys, checking on status or buying and managing tickets so much easier.