TXCOT officials are unveiling a virtual bus service that is the first in the nation that will use Google Maps for the first time.
The company says the bus service will use a special Google Map viewer app called Transit Maps that has already been installed in Austin, Houston, and Dallas.
“The app is free, but we are partnering with Lyft, Uber, and Zipcar to give users the option to purchase additional transportation options to the location where they need to go,” Travis County officials said in a statement.
The service, called the Google Maps Virtual Bus Service, is part of the city’s “Vision 2025” plan that calls for expanding public transportation to include virtual bus services and for the state to increase the number of public transportation options available to all Texas residents by 2020.
“By using the Google Map app, people in Texas City will be able to choose a route from the app to go wherever they want to go, whether it is to work or to visit friends and family, while at the same time getting an opportunity to take advantage of some of the best public transportation in the state,” said Jason Zalewski, Austin’s transportation director, in a press release.
“This is a great way for the City to help our residents, business owners, and visitors get to work and get to the grocery store.
We’re excited to partner with Lyft and Uber to offer this service in the City of Austin.”
The virtual bus, which will be offered in conjunction with the “Vision 2024” transportation vision, is scheduled to start in the next month or so.
“For now, it’s just a pilot program,” Travis City Manager Chris Nelson said.
“There are a lot of things that we need to do in order to get to Vision 2024, and the real goal is to get all of these transportation options into the hands of residents in the community.”
The Austin City Council passed a resolution in October that called for the development of a “virtual bus” service, which would be an entirely digital version of a local transportation system.
“We are excited to announce that we will be providing a virtual transportation service for our citizens in Austin.
As a pilot project, we have partnered with Lyft to offer the option for residents to purchase a virtual ride to a location of their choice, and Uber has offered to provide a virtual shuttle service to Austin residents that will help them get to and from work and school,” the Austin City Manager said in the press release, adding that the city will continue to work with other transportation providers in the city.