Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

MapQuest Launches New Pedestrian-Friendly Tool

For many Georgetown students, even the simplest trip into central Washington sometimes becomes a chaotic patchwork of buses, taxis, trains and walking. Fortunately for them, MapQuest launched new pedestrian-friendly directions services for train and walking routes this week.

Users of the site are now able to customize their directions to any destination based on whether they will be driving, walking or using public railways. The new options will give walkers access to foot paths, trails and pedestrian-only zones in addition to usual routes. Commuters can locate train stations, check departure and arrival times and receive updates on train delays and service announcements while planning their trip.

Blake Kelly (SFS ’12), who commuted regularly to Capitol Hill for an internship last semester was excited about the changes.

“Subway and walking directions would have made the first few commutes a lot easier,” he said. “Knowing about delays and train traffic would also have been useful because the red line always tended to have maintenance issues on my way to work.”

Kelly thought that other new features would also prove helpful for students.

“I think how helpful the site is depends on how often [a student] gets off campus, but the information about traffic and delays would always be useful and could really help students plan ahead for their trip.”

Aimed at the website’s urban customers, the new routing options can also be combined to create a trip that mixes walking and public transportation.

The new features were created in response to user comments, according to a Feb.10 MapQuest press release.

“The pedestrian mode and rail transit option are a direct response to one of the top-requested features from our customers,” Director of Consumer Products Ann Koerner said in the press release.

The walking directions option is available nationwide, while the public railway option is limited to six major U.S. cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and D.C. The public transportation routing option in these locations only includes the subway systems, while directions for bus and commuter rail travel are not available.

These new routing features are just one aspect of a general overhaul of MapQuest’s website to make it simpler, more informative and more user-friendly. Other new tools include locators for restaurants, shops and hotels, 360 degree street viewing and a function to personalize maps.

MapQuest’s renovations are similar to those of direction providers like Google Maps, Bing Maps and, a subway routing service, which incorporated walking and public transportation options into their websites several years ago. A few students said that they were unimpressed by MapQuest’s newest features because they are not unique.

“Google has these functions already and with an iPhone you can get their directions on the go, which makes it more accessible,” Alexa McCue (SFS ’13) said. “A few of the features are unique, but for me Google is good enough.”

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