Greater Greater Washington

Transit, real estate mash-up helps you live near transit

Say you're moving to the area, have a job, and want to find places with good transit to work. How do you figure it out? A lot of people just look at the Metro map and don't consider other modes, but a new service called AutNo is trying to help people locate near transit.


Image from AutNo.

This is actually a problem I hear often. A family friend moved to DC a couple of years ago, for a job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Tysons. The Silver Line was still a few years off, but he wanted to live in a vibrant, urban neighborhood. Where should he go?

The bus maps are daunting to decipher. It took me a couple of hours to really puzzle through the combinations and cross-reference it with my general knowledge of housing prices in various neighborhoods.

Boston-based AutNo tries to help by putting rental listings and trip planning together in one interface. You can view available rentals (it doesn't have places for sale, yet), click on one, and see transit directions to your office or another location you specify.

The about page reads:

AutNo is the first apartment search designed and developed specifically for people without cars. For the first time since the automobile was invented, the percentage of Americans who drive to school or work is on the decline. Gas prices are skyrocketing and automobile carbon emissions are contributing to global warming. Commuting and living without an automobile is the way of the future for many people. AutNo is dedicated to helping these people find apartments.
It will also show driving routes to work, too, if you want them.

You can narrow down results by price and number of bedrooms. A future feature that would be helpful is to also let people restrict the searches by travel time. That way, you could say that you want a place under $2,000 a month that's no more than a 45 minute trip to work, or whatever.

Basically, combine this with Mapnificent:


Places within a 1 hour transit ride of PWC in Tysons. Image from Mapnificent.

And, at the risk of sounding like a broken record: this is why open data is valuable. A transit agency might build a great app, but they're never going to build a mash-up of real estate data and transit data. When it's easy to put transit routing into an app, you not only can build apps that give people transit routing, but tools and apps that combine transit routing with almost anything else.

Update: I hadn't know it, but WalkScore actually has this exact Mapnificent-style feature. You can filter apartment listings by transit distance to a point:


Apartments within a 1 hour transit ride of PWC in Tysons. Image from WalkScore.

However, when you click on an apartment, WalkScore does not show you the transit routing with trains and buses you would take, while AutNo does. Without that information, people won't as easily learn which buses might work best for them or be able to judge whether a location is really likely as acessible from transit as the system says.

It would be best to have both at once on the same site; as it is now, I'd recommend that people use a combination of both tools for their search.

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. 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 daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

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yay! I would use this if I ever had to work off the metro grid!

by Alan B. on Mar 29, 2013 2:18 pm • linkreport

Is it just me, or is anybody wondering how there's such a large amount of PG County within an hour of Tysons? Is there a commuter bus that goes direct from Suitland or something? Maybe teleportation?

It just seems odd that all of Hillcrest Heights is within an hour while only a tiny blip of Friendship Heights is.

by Peter K on Mar 29, 2013 3:49 pm • linkreport

Hey David,
Great writeup, we appreciate it.

Michael
AutNo.com

by Michael on Mar 29, 2013 4:04 pm • linkreport

@Peter

It is probably using a commuter bus, perhaps one of the MTA ones. MARC and VRE are not included, though, and they can make a considerable difference.

by Richard Bourne on Mar 29, 2013 4:45 pm • linkreport

This sounds promising. My little sister has need of something like this.

by Little Red on Mar 29, 2013 5:40 pm • linkreport

I can't figure out why more of Fairfax County isn't included, Peter K.

by selxic on Mar 29, 2013 8:18 pm • linkreport

As another option, www.walkscore.com does this and does it well. In the last year, a number of friends and colleagues have used their website, which uses craigslist listings, to find the right amount of walkable locations, amenities, and commute time.

by cmc on Mar 30, 2013 3:23 am • linkreport

cmc: Interesting! I hadn't been aware of that particular WalkScore feature. Interestingly, WalkScore does show you the outline of where you can get in a period of time, but doesn't seem to show which buses and trains would be involved. So each service has some useful features but is missing some that the other has.

by David Alpert on Mar 30, 2013 8:38 am • linkreport

Very, very helpful!! Thanks for the article -- will share it widely!

by Tina Slater on Mar 30, 2013 1:23 pm • linkreport

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