In May, Chicago's Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) unveiled goroo (www.goroo.com), a multi-modal trip planning tool that provides side-by-side comparisons of transit, driving and walking travel options.
The trip planner includes Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace routes in its comparisons to walking, driving, driving to transit and transit-only modes, and sorts options by travel time, cost and environmental impact.
RTA's Manager of Engineering and Technology Gerry Tumbali has overseen goroo from the inception of the project. He wrote the grant proposal that won $1 million in funding from the FTA, which put out a request for proposals for a multi-modal trip planner in 2005. Chicago was selected among cities competing for the funds as the pilot site with the prospect of replication elsewhere in the future, according to RTA.
Before goroo, RTA operated a transit-only trip planner for about 10 years. But as user feedback and new technologies emerged, Tumbali said the agency wanted to enhance the system. The core goroo system is functional now, he explained, but "we plan to enhance it on a phased basis. We'll be including bicycling and walking modes. We're doing testing right now with some key users that we've invited to give us feedback."
Visitors to the site who plug in a starting location and destination will be presented with six modes to select from. Under each mode, goroo shows step-by-step directions, the route plotted on a map, total mileage for the trip, cost and carbon footprint. Users can also opt to avoid highways and tolls.
Costs for driving are based on rates that calculate total vehicle ownership and operating costs, and environmental impact is measured in pounds of carbon dioxide emitted. "People are making decisions on how to travel based on certain criteria," Tumbali said. "Travel time is No. 1, but you can also sort it according to what's cheapest, or you may choose to go the greenest route and obviously, that would be transit."
Additional features available on goroo include next-bus and next-train information; the ability to e-mail itineraries or send them to Web-enabled smart phones; parking information; and information on attractions, restaurants and events near the selected destination.