Google has finally released Google Transit, their public transport mapping system. The service now integrates into Google Maps and will provide itineraries and maps for your daily transit trip. Enter where you start from, where you want to go, the time you want to leave at or the time you want to arrive at and Google Transit will display directions and a carefully prepared route on Google Maps. For now, the service is still only available for a few states in the U.S like California, Texas or Florida, and also for Japan but apparently Google is hard at work to extend it to other parts of the U.S and Europe.
To make use of Google Transit immediately you can install the Minimap Sidebar Extension for Firefox. This plugin opens up Google Maps in your browser’s sidebar. Owners of handheld devices can also go for Google Maps for Mobile, available for Palm, phones and Pocket PC. Mac users will have to go to the Google Transit or Google Maps sites to make use of the transit tool. Or, if they live in California they can install two really cool widgets on their Dahsboards. SigAlert Traffic Maps shows the flow of traffic in nine different areas of Northern and Southern California and Phoenix, including speed of traffic and accidents. Bay Area nine to fivers can set up the BART Widget, a cool looking trip planner for the San Francisco Bay Area, complete with a map of the whole commuter rail system. You can also set bookmarks for different points of your trip.