Noam just finished a town hall tour of the county, during which he had the chance to share his plan of action for Westchester and to hear lots of good ideas from county residents about how to make Westchester an even better place to live, work, and raise a family. Noam wants to highlight just three of the ideas presented to him over the past couple weeks; yesterday he urged the repair and reopening of Sprain Ridge Pool, today is a great idea about our bus system.

If you weren’t able to make it to one of Noam’s “Getting to Know Noam” meetings, you can watch an abbreviated version of his presentation here, and you can still submit your own ideas to the campaign.

Many thanks to everyone who participated.

Idea Number Two: Add Bee-Line to Google Maps

bee-line_orion_613Like many of you, I use Google Maps all the time, to find an address I’ve never visited before or to explore a new route to someplace I know well. When I’m traveling to NYC, I use Google Maps to navigate the subways and buses so I don’t get mixed-up trying to make a transfer. In fact, so many public transit systems have been added to Google Maps — from over 500 cities around the world — that printed maps and schedules are almost a thing of the past.

Except in Westchester. Transit stops for Metro-North, Tappan Zee Express, and the CT Transit I-Bus are all online, but Bee-Line riders still need paper schedules that are not readily available and can be difficult to decipher, especially if you need to coordinate between bus routes, or take a bus to catch a train.

Most of the work — geo-coding Bee-Line bus stops — has already been done. In fact, you can find bus routes on stops on the County’s Geographic Information Systems website, but without schedules and interactive features, this informative tool is not truly useful. Fortunately, not much more time would be needed to translate digital information the County already has into a format that Google Maps accepts.

Online access of maps and schedules has been credited with increased ridership on public transportation systems, especially among young people who are eager to use alternate forms of transportation and haven’t yet locked themselves into car-driving habits. Strengthening our Bee-Line system would in turn add to the economic vitality of our Main Streets and downtowns. And of course a robust public transportation system relieves traffic, improves air quality, and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.