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August 14, 2013

Travelers looking for the best way to get around Massachusetts have a new best friend.

Students and faculty in the BSU’s GeoGraphics Lab, in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation’s MassRIDES Statewide Travel Options Program, have developed a website that will map just about any trip within the commonwealth. The Google Maps Transit site shows the various options available, the transportation lines and changeovers, and even the schedules of the various trains, buses and ferries.


You can access the site here.

“It provides you with all the information you need to plan,” said mathematics Professor Uma Shama, who is co-director of the lab, along with Lawrence J. Harman.

The members of the GeoGraphics Labe grafted the schedules, routes and other pertinent information onto a Google Maps application. The program includes the MBTA and all 15 Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) across the state.

Mateusz Pacha-Sucharzewski, G ’13, has spent a lot of time on the project over the past few years and said it’s a boon to Bay State travelers.

“It’s a great way to improve public transportation,” he said. “It really simplifies access to the data.”

Mapping transit routes and providing real-time data has been a concentration of the GeoGraphics Lab for several years. Working with anywhere from two to seven students, the lab’s servers and databases provide the backbone for a wide range of programs, from transit information services to the national hurricane forecast.

The programs of the lab benefit the general public, and the students gain the kind of experience that transcends the classroom, said graduate student Carly Van Zandt.

“I’ve learned more in the lab than in most of my classes,” she said.

Dr. Shama said the students, meanwhile, bring a unique perspective to every project.

“The great thing about having the students involved is they ask the right questions,” Dr. Shama said.

She added that the mapping program has a social justice component, since it is especially helpful to those who rely on public transportation or who have disabilities.

The future holds further developments. Other students are working in the lab on other transportation programs, some of which could be ready as soon as October. They are graduate students Sathvika Gourineni, and undergraduate students Matthew Ahrens and Andrew Seremetis.

Say hello to the students of the GeoGraphics Lab on this Vine video.

(Story and photos by John Winters, G ’11; Michelle Hacunda, '12 University Advancement)