The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


WMATA directions now on Google Transit!

Metrorail and Metrobus data are now a part of Google Transit!

If you now go to Google Maps, you can get directions from one place to another not just by car and bike, but also by transit using WMATA services, as well as a few other area transit systems. Here's a sample trip from Arlington to H Street:

WMATA just put out a press release that they and Google "will make a joint announcement about technology improvements that will benefit Metrorail and Metrobus riders" tomorrow. They don't say what the announcement will be, but there happens to be one service WMATA and Google have been working on for a long time now, for which they signed a contract in July and said was "very close" in March... and which has suddenly become available for riders.

The service has also been available on Bing Maps for some time.

Since the MTA Maryland buses and light rail and MARC are all on Google already, you can now also use Google Maps to plan a trip from Baltimore to DC using multiple transit services. Here's a somewhat complex example, with 6 different options; one even uses the Amtrak Northeast Regional.

The DC Circulator and Montgomery County's Ride On are also on Google already.

We're just two days shy of 29 months since Michael Perkins launched our first email petition to ask WMATA to take this step for riders. Michael kept doggedly on the story, FOIAing other cities' agreements to rebut arguments about legal obstacles. There was a lot of resistance from within the agency and from some members of the Board, but other sympathetic staff and Board members pushed this forward, and now it's a reality.

Thanks, WMATA!

Disclosure: I used to work for Google, but had no involvement with Google Maps. I no longer own any Google stock and have no other financial interest in Google.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


Add a comment »


by Michael Perkins on May 11, 2011 3:29 pm • linkreport


Thanks for helping shame WAMTA into making this happen.

by TGEoA on May 11, 2011 3:31 pm • linkreport

Glad they finally worked through their issues.

by Gavin on May 11, 2011 3:32 pm • linkreport

The iPhone map not only shows the bus and train icons, but the correct route #'s as well.

by TGEoA on May 11, 2011 3:33 pm • linkreport

Not sure about the website, but the app also has the "arrive by" feature so you can plan accordingly.

by TGEoA on May 11, 2011 3:37 pm • linkreport

Good news, everyone!

Now when will they get around to fixing the stupid "Washington, D.C., DC" problem?

by Adam L on May 11, 2011 3:37 pm • linkreport

1) Awesome
2) For some reason, I can't force it to make me ride the Circulator... Didn't that used to work?

by andrew on May 11, 2011 3:40 pm • linkreport

Your Yorktown(Arlington) to H Street NE example is a rather ringing endorsement for taking a car. Anytime other than rush hour driving door to door between those destinations is going to save you 30-60 minutes over that multiple transfer transit option.

by Jason Barton on May 11, 2011 3:40 pm • linkreport

Something's off with Circulator. For example ...
1. For this route from Woodley Park to Columbia Heights, the green Circulator seems to be "DC98."
2. For this route from Union Station to Georgetown, the yellow Circulator seems to be "DCWE."

by tom veil on May 11, 2011 3:42 pm • linkreport

Okay, hadn't realised Amtrak info was in there. That's pretty awesome. I can actually now plan transit trips from home to friends in Boston without a problem. Awesome!

by varun on May 11, 2011 3:44 pm • linkreport

I know this isn't a rigorous test, but I tested it on my commute and several of the more challenging transit routings I've done (getting to Fell's Point in Baltimore on a weekend is a real bear) and it seems to do great! Since it's been so long in coming, it sure would be nice to have it work right.

by Austin on May 11, 2011 3:52 pm • linkreport

After playing around with it for a while, it's great but has a serious flaw: It allows you to take commuter buses for short distances in the city, generally between commuter pick-up/drop-off locations. While that may be possible, it's silly to use those services unless taking them for an extended distance. WMATA should better mark these services so people understand commuter buses are a non-standard public transit service.

by Adam L on May 11, 2011 3:58 pm • linkreport

I wish it would show all the bus stops on the normal map. And I wish you could click each bus stop icon and have it show the routes, which you could then click and see where they go. You shouldn't have to plug in a request for directions just to find out where a bus route goes.

by TM on May 11, 2011 4:02 pm • linkreport

Good job WMATA!

Looks like it's also available on the Android's Google Map app. I've only tried on routing though (from L'Enfant to Shady Grove) but it seemed to work well.

by Steven Yates on May 11, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport

TM - +1
I can view the RideOn bus stops hear in beautiful lower Montgomery County, but only when I plug in directions do the WMATA bus routes magically appear. Any idea if/when Google will be updating that? That's the last link, but this is a fantastic step!

by Joe in SS on May 11, 2011 4:11 pm • linkreport

why is everyone praising Google Maps?
as anyone who happens to live in a residential alley here in DC knows all too well, Google Maps is REALLY HORRIBLE about how they show- actually most of the time- DO NOT SHOW- how these places are to be located- oftentimes their information is COMPLETELY WRONG.
Map Quest is no better.
This city as well as the nerds who own and operate these map services ought to be ashamed of themselves for doing such a piss-poor job. This lack of adequate attention to very important residences and buildings just because they happen to be in an alley tells me that these elitist Google Maps / Map Quest people are not concerned at all with accuracy- or as in the case of the DC city government- they couldn't care less about us here at all . If DC residents are second class citizens because Congress ignores us, then residential alley citizens here in DC are THIRD CLASS CITIZENS because the city ignores us and yet has the nerve to know where we are in order to collect our taxes, etc. Forget police , and even fire & rescue if you live or own property in one of these places- they won't be able to find you. In an emergency 911 or 311 might actually even tell you that your address does not exist and hang up on you- as has been done to NUMEROUS alley residents here in DC. Shame on Google Shame on Map Quest Shame on DC's "government"...

by w on May 11, 2011 4:13 pm • linkreport

A lot more than just Ride-On and Circulator. DASH has been on for some time.

by Kevin Beekman on May 11, 2011 4:16 pm • linkreport

@tom veil

There's nothing off with the Circulator routes. They have no route numbers and are now realizing why they need them. (Wasn't there a GGW post about this recently?)

DC98 is likely the name they use since the Circulator replaced the sluggish 98 Metrobus route that ran from Woodley Park to U Street. DCWE is for the original "west to east" circulator route.

C'mon, Circulator, let's start naming your routes!!!

by MDE on May 11, 2011 4:29 pm • linkreport


feel free to add your alley and encourage others to do so using the new crowdsource editing of gmaps.

Several of my edits are already live.

by anon on May 11, 2011 4:33 pm • linkreport

This is great news!

I notice Fairfax Connector is still missing. Any others?

by Max on May 11, 2011 5:17 pm • linkreport

They should also include the capital bikeshare locations for alternatives to walking.

by Rebecca on May 11, 2011 5:26 pm • linkreport

@Max I don't think ART or TheBus are on yet.

by Gavin on May 11, 2011 5:27 pm • linkreport

Great stuff! A few kinks, as people have noted. But, this will make it much easier to plan travel in the region. It may even entice people to try services that they didn't know existed (for example, when someone comes to Google Maps for driving directions and discovers there's a bus to their destination).

Thanks to everyone who pushed to make this happen!

by Jimmy on May 11, 2011 5:30 pm • linkreport

The maps don't show the line color or bus number when I plan a trip. Any ideas of why?

by Vanmo96 on May 11, 2011 5:46 pm • linkreport

Obligatory hooray!!

(now to test it out...)

by Mark Bardwell on May 11, 2011 5:47 pm • linkreport

Now all we need to do is get Google to fix their map so that the White House address is no longer in "Washington DC, DC".

by B.O. on May 11, 2011 6:28 pm • linkreport

Vanmo96: Metro doesn't include line color in their transit feed. That's something they could add if they want.

I've asked Fairfax connector, their media contact had mentioned to me that they would be in Google when WMATA joined.

by Michael Perkins on May 11, 2011 6:29 pm • linkreport

I couldn't see anything different with circulator routes in the GTFS feed. At least, nothing that makes me think they wouldn't show up the same as any WMATA route. They're even listed as the same agency_id as WMATA, which is bad.

by Michael Perkins on May 11, 2011 6:35 pm • linkreport

Great news, David.

And thanks for all you do to make Washington greater!

by falls church on May 11, 2011 6:40 pm • linkreport

Oh happy day!

by Omar on May 11, 2011 7:20 pm • linkreport


I just looked in routes.txt from the WMATA GTFS feed, and the Metro routes do have route_color defined.

In addition to not having a distinct agency_id, the Circulator routes have meaningless values for both route_short_name and route_long_name. I'd think that DDOT should release their own GTFS feed for the Circulator, unless they don't actually do their own scheduling for Circulator (I'm not sure if it's done by DDOT or WMATA), in which case WMATA should at least use meaningful names and a distinct agency_id.

by Kurt Raschke on May 11, 2011 9:06 pm • linkreport

(And if WMATA does do scheduling for the Circulator, can we please promote those people so that they're also in charge of the Metrobus folks?)

by andrew on May 11, 2011 9:25 pm • linkreport

I am so fricking excited. About time!!!

by Gregg on May 11, 2011 9:35 pm • linkreport

@Alpert, @Perkins, @Greater Greater Washington readership,


by Dennis Jaffe on May 12, 2011 12:40 am • linkreport

doesn't seem to account for multiple station entrances or the yellow line off-peak service. a good start though!

by anon on May 12, 2011 12:46 am • linkreport

Congrats google, you finally caught up with Microsoft after wasting wmata time to meet your demands.

by m on May 12, 2011 3:15 am • linkreport


by apg on May 12, 2011 8:35 am • linkreport

Re: Circulator

Circulator was on Google Transit before, right? The WMATA data probably includes it because it's the same data that powers the trip planner (which includes lots of the local systems). But yeah, they need better names for the Circulator routes now - it's not obvious what they are currently.

They also need to fix the commuter bus thing; you can't actually get on a commuter bus and ride it a few stops in the city right? This has been a problem for a while.

by MLD on May 12, 2011 8:41 am • linkreport

What TM and Rebecca said.

I would never have been able to get around Seattle if google maps didn't show bus stops and highlight the bus line when the bus stop is clicked on. We need that for DC.

Integrating bikeshare would be brilliant.

by m on May 12, 2011 9:43 am • linkreport

Now when are they going to activate the Transit layer (look at New York, Chicago, etc) that will also show the individual bus stops and the arrival times?

by DCAKen on May 12, 2011 9:50 am • linkreport

Circulator's data was on there but they haven't uploaded a new feed in quite a while. I do agree WMATA should do something about the Circulator titles but the data they have is a rough estimate of the times.

I did notice that some of the shapes seemed to be lost when compiling the data hence why you see some straight line routings (mainly for some of the express routes).

DC98 - Woodley Park/Adam Morgan - McPherson
DCWE - Georgetown - Union Station
DCNS - Conv. Center - Southwest Waterfront

by Ken Conaway on May 12, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

Oh, and it's giving me the worst route to work! Why would I take the blue line through the city to get to Alexandria?! It adds 20 minutes to the trip. Not a single option gives me the Yellow line. (Although TripPlanner doesn't either, though it used to.) And not a single option connects me to DASH. Instead it connects me to MetroBuses only, which adds another 10 minutes to the trip. (TripPlanner does connect to DASH.)

If I went by this, I'd have to leave home a half hour earlier. Or recognize that it's faster to drive.

by m on May 12, 2011 10:05 am • linkreport

Found another jacked-up bus route:

by MLD on May 12, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

I was excited to hear of Google Transit going live with WMATA. I went to plan a trip from BWI to DC. The trip had me taking both MARC Train (B30 would have been faster) then hopping on a Commuter bus, which I don't think would even let you on. I planned the trip on WMATA's site using the same data and it was perfect, informed me of the total cost (google does not) and even let me click right into the B30 schedule to view/download.

by Mike on May 12, 2011 11:02 am • linkreport

...In addition, I think the addition of transit data to Google Maps is a handy feature, just needs some fine-tuning.

by Mike on May 12, 2011 11:15 am • linkreport

Nice! You still can't view upcoming departures though like you can with the MTA services (Light Rail, Metro Subway, MARC) and Amtrak. I really wish they would fix the MARC and Light Rail info though. On the map some stations have two icons (one for either direction) and others only have one, either ignoring the other direction entirely or combining them into one.

by TerrapinKing on May 12, 2011 11:17 am • linkreport

Ah, the Fairfax Connector is still missing.

by Jasper on May 12, 2011 12:21 pm • linkreport

Is ART in there?

by Jasper on May 12, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

Feel free to add to this list if you know the status of a transit agency:

In Google Transit:

DC Circulator
Fairfax City (CUE)
Loudoun County
MTA Maryland

Not in Google Transit:
Arlington (ART)
Fairfax Connector
Prince George's County (The Bus)
Montgomery County (Ride ON)

by Michael Perkins on May 12, 2011 12:34 pm • linkreport

@ Michael Perkins
Ride On is on Google Transit although they need to update their feed again since the destinations are not listed correctly. They listed the actual destination codes.

As for MTA's data, I've had some pet peeves about it and so has a buddy of mine who works in scheduling for MTA. It's the way the scheduling program they use (Trapeze) dumps the data for export. There's still room for improvement (especially with Commuter Bus trips being listed as an option within the District).

by Ken Conaway on May 12, 2011 1:54 pm • linkreport

Thank you Google!!!!!!!! And GGW!

No thanks to WMATA though.

by Martin on May 12, 2011 4:47 pm • linkreport

Martin: I disagree; WMATA had to do a bunch of work and it does take time. There are times I think it might not have been a top priority but they did have a crash and budget crises and things. WMATA deserves our thanks now for getting this out the door and in our hands.

by David Alpert on May 12, 2011 4:56 pm • linkreport

They still don't have the Fairfax connectors in the "routing" information.

by stovak on May 12, 2011 8:09 pm • linkreport

I saw this on the news last night and was so pleased. Couldnt get online--stupid comcase-- but I knew this all here would be happily(or not) commenting. I'll read and commment later. YEA GGW !

by lilkunta on May 13, 2011 11:19 am • linkreport


Google Maps doesn't actually support VRE. The stations aren't even on the map.

by TerrapinKing on May 13, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

@TerrapinKing: You're right, I went to this page and accidentally read "Virginia Regional Transit" as "Virginia Railway Express". Duh!,-77.05&spn=0.3,0.5&dirflg=r

by Michael Perkins on May 13, 2011 12:51 pm • linkreport

Yes! This is so awesome that DC finally has this!

by Shawn on May 13, 2011 3:22 pm • linkreport

It looks like there are some bugs. I tried getting a route from the Crystal City station to Farragut West. Google claims there's no route available. Doesn't it know about the blue line?

by Derek Morr on May 14, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

@Derek Morr:
Yes, it knows about the Blue Line. It didn't give me any problems with a route from Crystal City to Farragut Square.

Perhaps you tried to plan the trip while the Metro was closed or something?

by Matt Johnson on May 14, 2011 1:09 pm • linkreport

something funny happens with the Circulator and WMATA. uses the DCDGR (as in DC Circulator Dupont-Georgetown-Rosslyn) but doesnt give any other options. Moving the start point just slightly out of the Circulator route ( gives options for WMATA but not for DCDGR....maybe the suggested routes can not have both Circulator and WMATA options?

Also, what is the best way to give feedback to Google on the bugs?

by re on May 14, 2011 3:55 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

You can use some HTML, like <blockquote>quoting another comment</blockquote>, <i>italics</i>, and <a href="http://url_here">hyperlinks</a>. More here.

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.


Support Us