A new map overlay – Mass Transit!

A number of you have asked me why I don’t add the Google transit overlay to the map. I wish I could, it’s really well done, but my searches haven’t turned up anything but people saying that they don’t share it with people using the Maps API. It’s unfortunate, but c’est la vie.

Just kidding, that just means it’s time to try my own hand at it :-) . I took the past couple days to make some programs that work together to automatically generate subway/trolley/light rail route maps from publicly available transit schedules.

It’s not exactly finished, but I’ve decided to release this initial version to gauge the reaction, and whether there’s any outcry at its shortcomings. One of the big ones is that if multiple lines share the same stops, the lines that represent them on the map will just sit on top of each other, and you can only see the top one. Another is that you may notice some wonky behavior with some of the lines. Many of you know these cities better than I do, so if you see anything that seems wrong to you, let me know.

To activate the overlay, open up the Filter box, and then open up the Super Secret Advanced Features, and check the checkbox next to Mass Transit Overlay. It currently shows only subway, light rail, and trolleys – bus routes would have been overwhelming. I have another project in mind that will take those into account, though.

The transit overlay is available in a few major cities at the moment. Please let me know if there are any big ones that I’ve missed, or small ones where rail-based mass transit plays a big role. Also, if you spot any bugs – I know about one or two, but there are probably more that I’m not aware of.

Happy hunting!

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  1. Posted May 24, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    You, sir, are my new hero. You just dramatically improved my apartment search in a relatively unknown (to me) city. :)

  2. Lee
    Posted June 11, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    This is an awesome tool! I tried to do it for Atlanta but I guess it’s not available. I know that ATL doesn’t have the most amazing transit but it sure would be nice for us walking/bike enthusiasts :)

  3. Posted June 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    This may not be the appropriate place to leave this comment, but I just found padmapper.com about ten minutes ago and it has changed my life. You are the most amazing human being on the entire face of the planet. Seriously, Gandhi could learn some stuff from you.

    In the last 5 years I’ve lived in 5 states and moved 6 times. Thank you for this. Thank you so much.

  4. elizabeth
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    I just discovered padmapper on about page 5 of a google search for 3 br apts toronto, and the hour has been the most delightful of my searching, what a lovely site! I am smitten, and hopefully this will help my daughter find her first away from home/ attending university digs (hopefully with friends, though the 3br thing doesn’t look so promising). Anyway, thank you for your brilliance!

  5. I am always right.
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    You have done some great things here ya sweet bastard . This site suits my ADD personality perfectly.

  6. Posted July 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the nice words, everyone! That’s really encouraging.

  7. Jay
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Phenomenal website.

    I love the the commute time overlay. Might it be possible to add a public transit option to the commute time overlay? I know Google has public transport route search for a lot of large cities.

    Random other idea: is it possible to have a feature to have the markers color coded by price? It would make for a nice overview of the distance v price tradeoff.

  8. gator
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    any chance of a distance filter? ex: to show anything within 1/2 mile of the subway.

  9. Sue
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink


    I don’t understand how you support yourself with padmapper, but I hope you are making a mint somehow because you deserve it. You bring clarity and power to all us apartment shoppers by making it so easy to see where apartments are located. Adding the mass transit layer was a stoke of genius for cities like Chicago, NYC and other heavy massage transit areas. And the crime stats layer is super essential esp with crime increasing in this economy. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I would pay for this service if you decided to charge. I’d rather pay for padmapper than an apartment locator company (and perhaps landlords would too).

    Lastly, is there any way you can filter out apartment locator ads from landlord’s ads? It seems most ads on craigslist are listed by agents from real estate services and sadly most of them have really bad reputations for bait and switch, poor customer service and sometimes outright fraud. If padmapper was an alternative to these companies it would be a valuable service for us renters.

    Again, thank you so very much for creating padmapper and continuing to make it useful and accessible to the public.

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