For the first time, WMATA is giving a specific timeframe for getting Metro rail and bus trip planning into Google Maps: mid-January.

After over a year of pressure from outside and in, the agency agreed to move forward in October 2009. Last January, they said they were negotiating terms. Circulator got on while WMATA was “very close” in February. WMATA Board member Chris Zimmerman said it seemed like the agency was “asymptotically” approaching implementation.

News on Google stopped mid-year, but there was other, even more welcome progress as WMATA opening up the data for all developers for free. Rail data went online first in August, and the bus data recently joined it last month.

Reader James has been tenaciously asking about this, and today got a response from Victor Grimes in the IT department:

We are still working with Google to ensure that our data is completely accurate before the information is released to the public, a process that entails scrubbing and reverifying all data. This required us to wait for the completion of our BUS Stop Data Repository reconciliation, which was accomplished on November 30.

We are now in the process of updating the database that holds the Metro website Trip Planner. With all updated information and the addition of the Metrobus schedule changes that will take effect in late December, we anticipate going live with Google Transit in mid-January.

I’m not sure I agree with WMATA’s need to double and triple check all data before going live, since after all the same data is already on the trip planner and has been for years, but this is very welcome news.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.