Washington Metro to Google Transit: Take a Walk (or Not)


Update: Looks like WMATA has backed off and is going to be more open. The decision came after lot of local criticism at the action to not give Google access to the data. It is still not clear if the data is going to be shared for free or if Google would have to pay for it.

Original Post:Washington D.C.’s Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has told Google that it would not be giving any transit schedule data for the Google Transit service. “We decided that forming a partnership with Google was not in our best interest from a business perspective,” Brett Tyler, WMATA’s director of customer service,told Michael Perkins, who blogs at Greater Greater Washington. It is not clear if WMATA wants Google to pay them for the information. Many commuters aren’t too thrilled with WMATA’s decision, mostly because they think the transit authority’s web site is not quite user-friendly. At present, 13 major U.S. transit agencies currently share data with Google Transit.

via. Photo courtesy of Sam Ruaat via Flickr.



San Francisco does the same thing, they get their transit-tracking service from nextbus.com. When I emailed them about a year ago asking if it would be possible to get access to that data, they essentially told me to lump it, even though my tax dollars pay for their service.

Municipalities should enforce laws that compel vendors to keep public information public.


Totally agreed — and even if municipalities simply expose full data on station and route information — as opposed to the whole enchilada with scheduling and so forth, that would at least allow a route planning app on an iPhone to give you info on where the nearest metro station is.

Om Malik


I have no idea what their reasons are for this. I just noted this story because it is a growing trend that many people are beginning to say no to google. i guess with success comes skepticism and doubt.


Is it possible that WMATA believes that a sunshine policy on their schedules will raise questions about their performance? Consistent tardiness will be far more obvious when the riding public can see the schedule on their phone. Practices like ending express service early or due to rain or because it’s the third Tuesday of the month will be easier for the public to identify…


Hey, Greater Greater Washington (I believe) has an online petition asking WMATA to change their stance on this. At last count, I hear about 500 had signed it. As a carless DC resident, this is one of the more grating decisions WMATA has made in a long time…


Wow – I’d love to be part of such an online petition. I had no idea there was such a feud going on with this. All I knew is that I was having an impossible time getting directions on the Metro in DC, whereas Portland, SFO, Pittsburgh all seemed to have full data exposed to Google Maps.

It’s a pain though right now — check these directions Google Transit just gave me:

Trying to get from Arlington to DC, it sends me on some shuttle bus all the way out to Ashburn and then back in, as opposed to just Metro rail.


WMATA has actualy had a bit of reversal saying, “we want the data to be open for everyone.” If you search Google news for ” google wmata” you’ll find the qoute.

Libran Lover

It is a similar story in Phoenix, Arizona. Valley Metro’s IT department has all the programming and datasets about their routes, ready to ship to Google at the click of a mouse button. But the city officials have not given them permission to share the information with Google. Repeated emails to city officials are unanswered. We have no idea why they are not allowing the sharing of this information. It is a pity because Valley Metro’s website and interface is not all that great. With Google, you can get transit information shown on Google Maps, on your cell phone, when you are out and about in the city!

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