Walk Score, an admirable Seattle company that invented the "Walk Score" now widely used in the US real estate business, now has an improved app for their transit travel time tool. That tool, which I use in my own definition of "personal mobility," shows you how far you can travel on transit from a chosen point in a fixed amount of time. For example, here's how far you can go in 15, 30, or 60 minutes from San Francisco Civic Center, at least on agencies that participate in Google Transit:
You can find something similar at Mapnificent.net.
Walkscore now has a fine new set of presentation tools that combine this information with real estate listings, so that you can search available apartments based on commute time to a destination of interest. Couples can even search for locations that optimize both of their commutes. For example, if one of you works in downtown Seattle and the other across the lake in downtown Bellevue, Walk Score discovers that if you want to equalize your commutes, you should live in the University District, where the blobs of access from the two workplaces overlap. Walk Score will even show you available apartments there.
(Of course this service needs to be expanded beyond rentals. Some people who are buying a home may care about similar criteria.)
All this is a step toward a more universal use of this tool that allows anyone (people, businesses, institutions, government services) to see the transit access consequences of where they choose to locate. Many places are simply inaccessible by any efficient form of transit, so people need tools for avoiding those places if they want transit to be part of their lives, or that of their employees, customers, or clients. That's especially important because some of these places are cheap, but may not be as cheap as they look when you consider the transport costs they impose.
I'm also interested in using this tool to generate a more factual two-digit "Transit Score" than the one Walk Score currently promotes. More on that here.
Now if hotels.com would just allow a transit search filter. Whenever I travel, I care much more about transit proximity than cost (or neighborhood), since that’s how I’ll be getting around.
Now, I have to know where transit stops are and then find hotels close by. It’s not very efficient.
I think it’s worth noting that the tools haven’t caught up to the reality of the bus system. If you live in the U District your bus downtown is extremely crowded (to the point that it will often pass you by), and your bus to Bellevue runs on 520, which means it’s extremely unreliable. Also… that part of the U District is overwhelmingly populated by undergrads, which doesn’t bode well for your sleep schedule. This couple is probably better off living close to where one of them works. The one that has to cross the lake takes the 550, the other walks to work and does more chores around the house.