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DeKalb public transit maps to go digital

The TransVAC green line bus pulls up to a stop at the DeKalb County Health Department in this file photo.
The TransVAC green line bus pulls up to a stop at the DeKalb County Health Department in this file photo.

DeKALB – The City plans to use Google Maps to augment public transportation for riders who want to know the fastest way to get around.

And it won’t cost government a thing.

Like showing the quickest route to drive or bike, the app will tell users the best public transit options when they seek destinations in DeKalb and Sycamore, as well as bus stop locations, transit manager Marcus Cox said Wednesday at a DeKalb Sycamore Area Transportation Study meeting.

“Anyone that’s utilizing Google Maps, whether on a computer or on a phone, if there’s a trip planning capability on there where you could say, ‘OK, I want to go from Twombly Road and I want to get to the courthouse in Sycamore,’ and you would be able to type that in and pick the public transit option,” Cox said.

The plan will first need to be approved by DeKalb City Council members on Monday and then talks with the tech giant can begin, but Cox said he is unsure when the service will be implemented. The tool will cost the city nothing, Cox said.

“We have to enter into an online agreement with Google,” Cox said. “Pretty much what that is saying is that if we are going to participate in this, and that if for some reason – I can’t imagine why – Google said he we don’t want to do this, they can remove our data.”

City officials will provide Google with the location of bus stops and routes following an agreement, and will be able to update the app with road closure and construction notifications.

Google Maps will also be able to connect local transportation systems to regional systems, such as Greyhound, for farther trips, Cox said.

“We have a lot of the data available because of the current bus tracking system through Huskie Line,” Cox said. “We’re going to pass that on to Google, and then we’re going to get the other information from TransVac, that way any fixed route bus out there will be in that system and available.”

The Huskie Line and TransVac bus systems were consolidated into a single, campus and city-wide service during a city council meeting on Oct. 23.

Open houses for Active Transportation Plan

DSATS also plans to hold a series of open houses to introduce its Active Transportation Plan.

The plan will include updates and continuations to pedestrian and bicycle pathways, DSATS Director Brian Dickson said Wednesday. The department is seeking input from community members in DeKalb County.

“Our top priority is to connect all of the existing facilities within the region,” Dickson said.

DSATS held the first of five open houses Monday. The other meetings will take place as follows:

• May 15, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. at the NIU Recreation Center, 325 N. Annie Glidden Road

• May 16, from 5:30 to 6 p.m. at the Ellwood Visitors Center, 509 N. 1st St.

• May 18, from 12:30 to 1 p.m. at the Ellwood Visitors Center, 509 N. 1st St.

• May 28, from 5:30 to 6 p.m. at the Sycamore Park District Community Center, 480 Airport Road, in Sycamore.

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