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Mapnificent Visualizes The Boundaries Of Public Transportation

No more blaming being late on the subway. An online mapping tool lets you see exactly how far you can get on public transportation in a given amount of time.


You have a couple hours to kill in a new city, but don't have the slightest clue how long it will take you on public transportation to get to all the good tourist destinations. Mapnificent, a Google Maps-based program that shows how far you can go using public transportation in a certain amount of time, can help.

At its most basic level, Mapnificent shows a bright area on the map that contains all the destinations you can reach in a certain time frame. The service also allows users to combine two different maps (for you and a friend) to find a bar, coffee shop, museum or other landmark that's within a common time range. You can also add a bike to an equation, or change how far you're willing to walk from a station. The service is already available for a number of major cities, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Mapnificent doesn't actually tell you how to get to the places within your transportation range, though a quick perusal of your city's public transportation maps should give you an idea. The service also can't account for uncertainties: In many cities, the amount of time a public transportation trip should theoretically take is much shorter than it actually takes. But it can, at least, give users a rough guide to their time-limited journeys. The service is also experimenting with adding time of day into the equation, which should take into account traffic as well as late-night transportation service.

The service is still useful for planning, and to a lesser extent, for bigger decisions like where to live. Because it would be a shame to move to a new place only to discover the most desirable destinations fell outside a reasonable transportation window.

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

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  • Don Jarrell

    Very useful concept.  Fascinating use/integration of several technologies and data sets.  Performance is pretty disappointing, to the point of annoyance - BUT that can be improved.