Is the Metro Trip Planner Absolutely INSANE?!?!

So tomorrow I will need to use public transportation to go from Pasadena to Echo Park. I look up the route on the MTA trip planner, which is on their front page. I get back three routes that are estimated to take TWO to THREE HOURS!! I could walk in that time and get my gym time in to boot.

Even more crazy is that none of the routes use the Metro Gold Line which goes from Pasadena to Union Station. And is easily the most direct route. Instead they are telling me to take all sorts of crazy buses to all sorts of crazy places, as well as take the Red Line. This is not the first time something like this has been generated by this so-called route planner.

Absolutely useless piece of crap.

I just used the System Map(PDF) to find a route. One that actually makes sense and will get me home faster than walking.

And yes, I know that route finding can be a particularly challenging computing problem, and I do respect those who get it right, but if you can’t get it right don’t offer it.

11 Replies to “Is the Metro Trip Planner Absolutely INSANE?!?!”

  1. You have to include the use of rail in your search. Use advanced search, include must use rail in your preferences and it will give you a much better route. It should do this by default if rail is a better option, but it doesnt. You can pick a route directly along the metrorail line and it will stick you on a bus anyway.

  2. It has some very odd preferences in its route planning. But it also does a pretty good job on most of the routes that I’ve asked it to plan for me. My main complaint is that it doesn’t factor in walking time at all. I can understand doing it badly, but telling me that I can be somewhere by 6 when the bus is SCHEDULED to arrive at 5.59 3/4 of a mile away is not so good.

  3. what a bummer you had a such a frustrating time. sometimes when I know I want to start from a certain rail station — I use that as the starting point in the trip planner. I agree that trip planner has its flaws, but feel disappointed when I read posts like this – that sound like the individual is writing off all of the Metro system b/c upset with a particular aspect. we need less cars on the road and more support for transit, a movement that admittedly requires patience and persistence.

  4. Well, I am not necessarily writing off using the Metro. In fact, I will be using the Metro tomorrow, and I plan to use it daily next year to commute to UCLA.

    That said, this is mainly a rant as I was surprised by the utterly craptastic routes that I was given.

    I agree that we do need more mass transit and it is good to be patient in regards to that. However, I have ridden Metro for years and much of my patience was eaten up long ago. A lot of people I know talk big about using public transportation, but I come to find that what they really want is *someone else to have to use it on a daily basis*.

  5. next time try calling MTA (213) 626-4455. Let them know that you would like to included rail. It does get much simpler to understand LA’s public transpration the more often you use it.

  6. I don’t think he stated any problem with the Metro system itself, only with the Trip Planner on the website.

    Google is working on a feature that would allow you to choose your starting/ending points and find you a route using local public transit. You can find it at http://www.google.com/transit
    Unfortunately, the options are pretty limited right now. In Southern California it only has Burbank and Orange County. It included walking and rail when I ran their test queries for Portland. Hopefully they will expand this feature to include MTA.

  7. hex, sometimes it’s just a little wacky trying to use that trip planner. i have seen it tell me to take an insanely long trip when i know i can get there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. i would recomend then what jessica did. start your trip from the metro station you want to leave from. if you don’t know how to get there check out the system map and timetables of the buslines. you’ll get to know your city a little better too.
    i must again agree with jessica about how posting negative things about metro only keeps the haters happy. we need more posts about how the cool bus driver let me on for free or how i got to work without stress and $10 richer by using metro.
    oh and if you still need a quick route to pasadena. stand on the sw corner of echo park and sunset take the 304 get off at union station to catch the gold line. the 304 runs about every 10 to 20 minutes from the start of the day to about 7.30 pm. you can catch it on the ne corner of alameda and cesar chavez to come back.
    good luck.

  8. What do you expect from MTA it’s run by a bunch of morons, I don’t know how they stay in business. I gave up on them months ago.

  9. I’m a Metro Trip planning veteran, and I admit the UI is clunky, the suggested trips are often way out of the way, time-consuming and inefficient. I downloaded the .pdf copies of the Metro Maps for the whole LA region and supplement the Trip Planner with these.

    As an experiment, I plotted a course on the Trip Planner from my GF’s house to mine, and got a result I thought was buggy. I looked at my maps and found a different route that would likely shave off half the time of the suggested one, as well as mileage. The route I planned myself might have me walking a full block more than the suggested one, but it is far more preferable to spending a half hour on the road more than my created route.

    I suggest using the Metro Maps and bus timetables to create one’s own route, the Trip Planner is unreliable.

  10. I’m a Metro Trip planning veteran, and I admit the UI is clunky, the suggested trips are often way out of the way, time-consuming and inefficient. I downloaded the .pdf copies of the Metro Maps for the whole LA region and supplement the Trip Planner with these.

    As an experiment, I plotted a course on the Trip Planner from my GF’s house to mine, and got a result I thought was buggy. I looked at my maps and found a different route that would likely shave off half the time of the suggested one, as well as mileage. The route I planned myself might have me walking a full block more than the suggested one, but it is far more preferable to spending a half hour on the road more than my created route.

    I suggest using the Metro Maps and bus timetables to create one’s own route, the Trip Planner is unreliable.

  11. Often times, though, bus is sometimes faster. For instance, if you are going from Pasadena to Downtown and you are not within a half mile of the Gold Line, it will probably route you on the 485 because end to end, the scheduled time is fastest than getting on the Gold Line and transferring to the Red.

    The other thing is that the 780, which is what the trip planner probably gave you, is pretty fast, and serves the major destinations on Colorado with little to no walking required. The 485 is also pretty fast along Fremont/Lake except for during rush hour, and once again, if your destination is on Lake, it will tell you to ride the 485, even if you could have walked the mile or so down the hill from the Old Town station, or across the 210 freeway from the Lake Avenue station. The trip planner doesn’t like to backtrack people or use more vehicles than necessary, and your trip would most likely be a bus-rail-bus trip, which could have been substituted for a two bus trip with the 780 or 485.

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