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Perth first for Google Transit Map

PERTH will be the first Australian city to access the latest addition to the Google stable – Google Transit.

The online mapping site, incorporating transport options and business listings, is already operating in cities across the US, Canada, France, Italy and Japan.

With its first Southern Hemisphere release, users will be able to look up directions within Perth and obtain travel options, including departure times for public transport and step-by-step driving instructions.

They will also be able to look up businesses in the area to be marked on the map.

Google said the site would be available “within weeks”.

“It’s very, very convenient,” Google Australia and New Zealand’s Head of Engineering Alan Noble told reporters at today’s product preview at the Sydney Opera House.

“We’ve taken public transportation information, which is sometimes quite difficult for mere mortals to understand, and made this very easy to use on Google maps.

“What we have is all this information – transit information, driving directions, business listings – and put it in one immediate location, namely Google Maps, which as (US-based chief executive officer) Eric Schmidt pointed out, was developed right here in Sydney.”

The executive director of Perth’s public transport service providers Transperth, Mark Burgess, said they were eager to provide the transport information to Google as it would help improve the service.

“Transperth has always aimed to connect Perth locals and visitors with their options for public transport,” Mr Burgess said in a statement.

“We’re excited to make this information available to all the Australians who already turn to Google Maps for directions, and most especially to the local Perth community.”

Mr Noble said he hoped a successful roll-out in Perth would encourage other state transit providers to make their information available to Google.

“We’re very happy to have started Google Transit here in Australia in Perth, but we’re very eager to roll this out throughout Australia and look forward to making this transit information available to all Australian cities as soon as possible,” Mr Noble said.

Dr Schmidt told reporters the Google Maps program was developed by four Australian computer engineers and was now the country’s number one mapping site.

“Google Maps has been a huge phenomenon globally,” he told reporters.

“It is one of the two or three key things that guides our success.”

Google was launched in 1998 and is now worth over $US16 billion.