Google Maps – More Transit!

Google Maps Adds Transit Lines

Google has announced that its maps program, offered at, will now visualize transit lines, something it had not previously offered. The maps program has added “Transit” to the “More” tap located at the top right of the map window. The result is fantastic: geographic representations of transit lines in fifty cities around the world. Previously, Google had simply incorporated station sites into the maps – this addition provides a whole new interface and allows people to forgo official transit maps entirely as they plan their commutes.

Unfortunately, so far, the transit maps are only available in six U.S. and Canadian cities: Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Dallas, and Montréal. But the tool is likely to expand to a variety of other cities over time.

A few comments about using the program:

  • When one clicks on a station, the routes serving that station are highlighted, while other routes fade away. This is a useful way to easily see where one can go directly from each station.
  • Using the “Get Directions” system now makes a lot more sense, as the line being used to get around is highlighted, and the whole tool is more logical than it was before.
  • In some cities, such as Chicago, bus lines are included on the maps once you zoom in close enough. The problem is that there are simply too many routes, and it becomes impossible to see which routes go where, so in this aspect, the program fails. Bus lines should probably be placed in a separate, optional layer in the future.
  • While in the Europe and San Francisco, lines are tinted according to their official designations, in the other U.S. cities, all rail lines are colored the same, meaning that it’s difficult, once again, to differentiate between routes. Look at Dallas, Chicago, and Portland as examples.
  • Overall, however, this is a much better experience than before and a useful device for transit users.

Looking Forward to 2009: Openings and Construction Starts

2009 looks like it’s going to be a big year in transportation. Of course we’re all excited about the promise of the Obama administration, and we’re looking forward to California’s big HSR system getting going, but there are a lot of existing projects far further ahead in the planning process.

Here’s a review of the transit lines that are going to open for service in the next year, followed by the projects expected to begin construction. Note that the latter list is subject to change; though all have at least some guaranteed funding, arbitrary decisions by the FTA, or state or municipal governments can go a long way in delaying or even cancelling theoretically “definite” projects. More information on projects both entering into service and planned can be found on their respective pages.

New Service



  • Austin Capital MetroRail opens (32-mile CR DMU), connecting Downtown with Leander, via North Austin. (March 30)


  • Edmonton South LRT Extension opens (2-mile LRT), connecting existing Health Sciences Station to a new South Campus Station. (April 26)


  • Seattle Link Central Line Phase I opens (13.9-mile LRT), connecting Downtown with Tukwila, via SODO, Columbia City, and Rainer Beach. (July 3)


  • Dallas DART Green Line Phase I opens (2.7-mile LRT), connecting existing Victory Station to MLK Station, via existing Downtown tracks and new southeast tracks. The rest of the line will open in December 2010.
  • Portland MAX Green Line opens (6.5-mile LRT), connecting Clackamas Town Center with Gateway Transit Center, and continuing on existing MAX Red and Blue Lines to Downtown Portland. New Portland Mall with tracks for MAX Green and Yellow Lines, running north-south on 5th and 6th Streets, from Union Station to Portland State University, also will open at this time. (Buses will return to the Mall in May.)


  • Vancouver Skytrain Canada Line opens (12-mile LRT), connecting Downtown with the Airport and Richmond, via Broadway and Bridgeport. (November 30)


  • Los Angeles MTA Gold Line Eastside Extension opens (6-mile LRT), connecting existing Pasadena-L.A. Gold Line to East L.A., via little Tokyo.
  • Minneapolis Northstar Commuter Rail opens (51-mile CR), connecting Downtown Minneapolis with Big Lake.
  • Seattle Link Central Line Phase II opens (1.7 mile LRT), extending line open in summer 2009 to SeaTac International Airport.

New Construction Starts

  • Calgary C-Train
  • Charlotte CATS
  • Dallas DART
  • Denver RTD
  • Honolulu
    • Main Line (20-mile LRT), connecting Kapolei with Ala Moana Center, via Salt Lake and Downtown.
  • Houston METRO
    • North Corridor (5.2 mile LRT), extending existing north-south MetroRail from Downtown Houston to Northline Transit Center.
    • Southeast Corridor (6.1-mile LRT), connecting Downtown with Palm Center Transit Station.
    • University Corridor (10-mile LRT), connecting University of Houston with Hillcroft Transit Center.
    • Uptown Corridor (4-mile LRT), connecting Northwest Transit Center with Richmond.
  • Miami
  • Montreal
  • New York (New Jersey Transit)
  • Portland Streetcar
  • Salt Lake City TRAX
    • Airport Line (6-mile LRT), connecting Downtown with the Airport.
  • San Francisco BART
  • Seattle Sound Transit
    • University Link (3.15-mile LRT), extending under construction Central Link LRT from Downtown to University of Washington, via Capitol Hill.
  • Tucson
    • Downtown Transit (3.9-mile Streetcar), connecting Downtown with University of Arizona.
  • Vancouver
  • Washington
    • Metro Dulles Silver Line (23-mile Metro), connecting West Falls Church with Loudon County, via Tysons Corner and Dulles Airport. (March 2 start date)
    • Downtown Circulators (4-mile streetcar), first line is along the Anacostia waterfront.

Updated «Under Construction» and «Planned» Pages

It’s a slow news day here in the transportation world, but we’ve been working hard to give you more information on transit expansion that you’ll be able to find at the tip of your fingers.

We’ve updated our Under Construction and Planned pages, links to which you can obviously also find above, with the most recent information we’ve been able to find about major mass transit projects being built or being considered around the nation. We hope you’ll find the information useful and take advantage of this resource when you need some quick facts or a link or two.

We’ll also try to keep the information updated as frequently as possible.

As always, thanks for reading.

» P.S.: The future will provide additional changes to these two pages; we’ll increase information on each project as we receive it and we’ll eventually divide each page into separate, modal categories.


Paul Weyrich Dies

One of the few Republicans we on this blog would have considered acceptable for the position as Secretary of the Department of Transportation has died.

Paul Weyrich was 66 when he passed away. Though Mr. Weyrich was a dyed-in-the-wool conservative – he was one of the founders of the Heritage Foundation – he was also a major supporter of rail transit, especially in pushing for it over BRTs.

We thank him for his continued and sometimes overlooked activism on behalf of public transportation. Rest in peace.



Welcome to the transport politic.

This is a blog devoted to the politics of transit policy, with a focus on major investments in infrastructure improvements, notably in the construction of metro, light rail, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit lines.

Leading up to the election (in just two weeks!), we’ll be discussing how the future candidates are likely to influence transportation spending, what the Bush administration transit legacy will be, and how a number of initiatives being proposed directly to voters this year will affect future planning.

Stay connected for daily updates, covering news, political infighting, and the latest in the space wars.

We hope you enjoy this site and that it provides the relevant, up-to-date information you’re looking for.

Note: this blog’s emphasis is staying current on transit projects occuring all over the nation. As a result, we have included above a list (with helpful links) of all major voter initiatives in this fall’s election related to transportation, a list of major projects currently in construction or soon to be built, and a list of investments so far lacking in monetary support. This information will be updated regularly and eventually include links to blog posts related to each project.