Roosevelt Island Tram at work

Google Maps Testing Begins, Now Adding Red Buses and Tram


Google Maps testing begins today for adding the Tram and Red Buses into their system. Former Roosevelt Islander Alex Bores coordinated the effort with State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and RIOC. This is his story.

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Google Maps Testing will include Red Buses along with the Tram.

The Tram and Red Busses Launch on Google Maps

The Roosevelt Island Tram and Red Busses (including Octagon Express) are now in testing on Google Maps. Residents and visitors can look up transit directions the same way they look up the subway.

Google integrates around 120,000 different transit systems worldwide. This includes many different transportation sources around Roosevelt Island, including the subway, the Hornblower ferries, and Citi Bikes, but until now, did not include the tram or busses.

The initiative was spearheaded by Alex Bores, a former resident of Roosevelt Island and a District Leader representing the 76th Assembly District. “I noticed the tram was not on Google Maps when a friend tried to visit me. When he saw that Google’s directions did not suggest the tram, he assumed it wasn’t running,” said District Leader Bores. He teamed up with Assembly Member Seawright and RIOC to accurately represent the schedule, and then coded it into the technical format that Google and other map providers use to show schedules.

“Roosevelt Island has thriving businesses, but too few New Yorkers know how accessible the Island is. Instead of showing a route that requires people to wait up to 30 minutes for the Q102, visitors will also see the red busses running every 7-15 minutes,” said District Leader Bores. “For residents that want to visit Manhattan destinations like the Trader Joe’s right across the river, Google Maps now shows the 12 minutes the trip takes by tram instead of 19 minutes via the F train.”

The schedule is still in testing, so the feed may change or be temporarily unavailable in the future. RIOC will provide updates to the schedule over time. The schedule is static, meaning it shows the planned schedule instead of tracking the real-time location of any busses or tram cabins.The goal is to launch it permanently by the end of February, as well as to have it appear on Bing Maps and Apple Maps (where currently the tram appears but not the busses).

“The Roosevelt Island Tram has been a relied upon and heavily used mode of transportation that has been serving New Yorkers for the past 45 years and carries about 6,000 people per day between the island and Manhattan,” said Representative Carolyn Maloney. “Despite all that the tram contributes to our community, it has never appeared on Google Maps. By listing it as an option and displaying its schedule on Google Maps, Roosevelt Islanders and visitors alike will be able to better take advantage of this eco-friendly transportation option. I am thrilled that District Leader Alex Bores and island residents successfully campaigned to correct this oversight.”

The team used software built by the NRTAP program under the federal Department of Transportation. The free software makes it easier for smaller transit agencies to create and change their schedules in ways that Google and other map providers can ingest.

District Leader Kim Moscaritolo, who helped start the project, said, “I’ve spent many years traveling to and from Roosevelt Island, and having the tram on Google maps is long overdue! Now, all residents and visitors will be able to plan their trips easily and efficiently.”

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