For a while, I was in San Francisco about once a month. Pretty quickly I realized that I had to figure out a cost effective way of getting around. Google Transit became my best friend. My friends who were SF natives were amazed that I had decided to brave BART and the Muni (SF’s Mass Transit), which can be intimidating to first timers.
Deciphering BART and Muni became easy because they had the foresight to work with Google Maps, where I do all my planning when it comes to getting around town. Everything as integrated together and easy to use.
Guess what they claim as one of their biggest decision makers was for them in the deal: Online Advertising. Here’s a chunk from an article in DCist:
Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith told the paper that “[integration with Google] can’t just be a private company getting something off the back of a public agency.” Because making only $68,000 from 16 million monthly page views is worth protecting? (Hint: that’s really not much revenue based on that kind of traffic, guys. You should be doing way better than that).
If you want to get your content out there and used, you can’t have a world view where your only distribution mechanism for your content is your Web site. There are too many Web sites that are competing for my attention. You want to get your content where the people are.
In the case of WMATA, people use Google Maps. They shouldn’t be doing anything but giving a full throated embrace to the deal with Google Transit. If cost is what they’re concerned about, I’d imagine they’d get more tourists who’d feel comfortable with using DC’s subways because it’s integrated with Google Maps then if they had to figure it out on their own. This would make them more money on ticket sales. Granted this may hurt the DC taxi system though. 😉