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HopStop.com - A New Way to Find Directions on MUNI and BART

Last night I had a chance to catch an interesting lecture/discussion on blogging and the Internet taught by Sreenath Sreenivasan from the Columbia School of Journalism. Not only was it fun, but I got a chance to meet some interesting people and get a nice tour of the hallways of the San Francisco Chronicle's headquarters as well.

While there was a lot of great information presented during the Professor's discussion, one site in particular caught my attention - HopStop.com. As many loyal readers and users of MUNI know, 511.org's directions for MUNI can sometimes be a bit off, and now there's an alternative being offered via HopStop.

The site originated in New York City, born out of the frustration of its creator and his navigation of New York City's complex subway system. HopStop, however, does more than just give directions based on address. It can help you find directions if you want to use just the bus, a combination of bus and walking, or just walking, between any two points. Even better, the system can pick out directions based on pointing to somewhere on a map, or naming a specific restaurant or other location by name, and you have your choice of nine languages.

I took some time to try out the site and it is pretty good. There are other features I have yet to try, such as the mobile access via SMS and cell phone, but the fact that someone's at least trying to build a better mousetrap (or in this case mass transit info system) than the one we have now is really nice.

Best of all, if you're using the site and find something that should be fixed, they'll send you a free T-shirt for your troubles.

It will be interesting to see how this service, as well as the advance of Google Transit (now in beta in several cities) will evolve, and what that will mean for the behemoth at 511.org, and for MUNI. For now, try out the site and let them know what you think.

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