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Please lobby ACTION and ACT Govt to provide bus route and schedule data to Google

By patrick_keogh - 3 December 2008 30

[First filed: December 02, 2008 @ 08:42]

I’m sure that some of you have used Google Maps. The latest versions, including the one for the iPhone can plan a route for you using public transport, as well as the “traditional” car and pedestrian route planning. In Australia right now you can only do it for two cities (Adelaide and Perth) because these are the only public transport providers which have made their data available for Google to read.

There is an excellent article here about this, suggesting that we lobby our local transport providers to get them added to the network.  The Google article about what is required is here.

I humbly suggest that it would be a good thing if ACTION routes were made available. All you well connected Rioters please raise the issue with those of influence! All you ordinary scumbag Rioters please at least drop ACTION a line!

UPDATE: Success!

OzPhoenix has received this reply:

    “Dear [OzPhoenix]

    Thank you for your enquiry.

    ACTION are currently working on making timetable information available
    on Google Transit, via ACTION’s website which will be in operation as
    soon as work is complete.

    Kind regards

    ACTION Correspondence

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30 Responses to
Please lobby ACTION and ACT Govt to provide bus route and schedule data to Google
utah 9:43 pm 02 Dec 08

Hmmm… According to the marketing blurb for HASTUS:

OIG interface tool
A built-in tool, OIG (Object Interface Generator) is provided to build interface file definitions.

The tool offers powerful data manipulation and formatting capabilities and can generate interface files either in traditional fixed-field or CSV formats, or as XML documents (with related XSD schema definitions).

So the bar’s now been lowered to “someone who can click on the File menu, and select ‘Save As'”. I guess we’ll have it up and running by the end of next week at the latest…

utah 9:23 pm 02 Dec 08

The Google page you linked says:

If your agency uses schedule software such as Trapeze FX or GIRO HASTUS, your vendor may have an interface that helps you to export the data. Please contact them for details.

This page, which I’ll not link lest I end up in the moderation queue:

..states at point 21 that ACTION own a licence for HASTUS, and presumably use it.

If there’s anyone at ACTION with local admin rights to their workstation, could you install a copy of the HASTUS route exporter and hit “File/Export”, and then pop the file on your website for Google to scan? Or even give it to JohnBoy, I’m sure he’d host it for nothing.

If there’s anyone from the Greens who feels like doing something Green that doesn’t involve land rights for chickens, could you hurry this along?

Felix the Cat 9:04 pm 02 Dec 08

seekay said :

Bike racks etc? They are a token gesture – and that’s what the ACT Government is all about.

It seems they are getting used (the bike racks). According to an article in City News “the average weekday number of cyclists using bike racks on ACTION buses, and travelling for free, reached 295 bikes in October, a 28.7% increase from the previous month. In three years since the introduction of the racks usage has increased from 200 bikes a week to a record 1941 bikes in the week beginning October 27.” Of course the number of buses equipped with bike racks has grown significantly in this period as well, so this goes some way to explain the increase in usage.

I’m, all for bike racks on buses but I do agree that having less crowded buses and ones that run to the timetable and route should be a priority. I wonder if the use of the bike racks would drop much if the cyclists were charged full fare like everybody else?

Tempestas 8:37 pm 02 Dec 08

The fact ACTION change their routes often is a reason for going to such a service – they make the feed Google does the rest.

As for Where Is – if you have been reading the tech pages, they are giving up and Telstra/White Pages/Sensis will now be using Google Maps for their online services.

In fact Canberra’s rambling public transport system has possibly heaps to gain from location aware mobile devices if some of the information can be mined later on.

Its the future. its Now. I expect ACTION will look into sometime 10 years away.

patrick_keogh 8:17 pm 02 Dec 08


If they change the route, all they have to do is to ensure that the updated route data is updated at the same time that their published timetable and maps are updated. Google takes a live feed (don’t know how often) and it is all in synch again.

When people fail to read the basic material offered in a base article and then provide uninformed commentary it ensures that Riotact preserves a delicious lightness in terms of information content.

sepi 6:29 pm 02 Dec 08

acion changes their routes so often that this would not be up to date for long.

patrick_keogh 5:21 pm 02 Dec 08

No sorry PsydFX, you missed the point. What Google Maps offers is a combination of things that make this idea attractive.

First is an application that runs in a web browser, but also as a specialist application on iPhone that can present geospatial information whether that is street maps, satellite images or street level images. It is tuned to run on the mobile platform.

Second, it is location aware. It talks directly to the GPS so you can ask for a driving route or a bus route from here to some point.

Third it integrates other positional information, such as geolocated photos, geolocated businesses etc.

So don’t even think about the satellite imagery part. Think about “I’m walking down the street and I get a call from a friend suggesting a coffee. How can I get from here to Bunda Street by bus? What time will I get there? What bus do I catch and where from? Google Maps answers these questions, and it does it if I am in Perth, Adelaide, San Francisco etc. etc. etc. etc.

All ACTION have to do is provide access to the data (which is currently exposed only as the html and pdf timetables) in the right format, Google do the rest!

And as to Sensis data, I don’t have to know the best routes or have the best street level data, I just have to know where the bus routes go. It is up to ACTION to define each bus route. All Google do is read the timetable and draw it roughly on the map.

PsydFX 5:10 pm 02 Dec 08

Satellite imagery, while a cool technology and all is probably overkill for bus routes, personally I would prefer mapping data to come from an Australian company like Sensis / Where Is.

patrick_keogh 4:46 pm 02 Dec 08

I got feedback from ACTION … well at least it was quick even if it wasn’t good. It says:

ACTION are currently working on the route finder and will be available
for public use via ACTION’s website at as soon as

Didn’t they read my message? I gave them a pointer to the Google Maps thing, explained the (mobile) functionality but whoever responded just thought I’d asked for an online route planner. I responded that they should have this as well…

OzPhoenix 3:29 pm 02 Dec 08

This is a feature lacking of the ACTION website that has often annoyed me – and a mate of mine was even recently suggesting how they should modify the site and integrate it with Google Earth. So yeah, why not send ACTION an email (I just did), if nothing else it will give them some entertainment and a warm fuzzy feeling that people actually care about what they do.

But I must say, I’ll just be surprised if they even respond to my email (regardless of whether it is positive or negative).

seekay 1:18 pm 02 Dec 08

Bike racks etc? They are a token gesture – and that’s what the ACT Government is all about.

And talking of token gestures, why haven’t the Greens send out free fabric swatches for the curtains they’ve promised us.

hax 12:09 pm 02 Dec 08

Planning a journey using public transport in Canberra could almost become viable 😉

Ian 10:29 am 02 Dec 08

A vaguely decent public transport service would be a better thing for ACTION to focus on, rather than bells and whistles (and bike racks,etc).

tortfeaser 10:10 am 02 Dec 08

Dude, they can’t even get the info posted at the bus stops right. My local stop (a terminus at that) (Lanyon marketplace) has the new standard sign with timetable info but leaves off half the busses that stop there.

And their SMS info system is a joke.

harvyk1 9:22 am 02 Dec 08

Your not seriously thinking that the ACT Govt \ ACTION would do anything useful?

They don’t even like having to run a bus service, they only do it because otherwise it would put Queanbeyan on top with services.

I once tried to get ACTION to fix up a single route that was always over capacity on every day except Thursday, and yet they decided to do their checks on Thursday. (even though they where told that on Thursdays it’s not a problem) the result, nada.

Yes, ACTION truely is the perfect example of how not to run a bus service for a city.

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