About 511 Transit
Comprehensive Transit Information for the San Francisco Bay Area
511 Transit brings together route, schedule and fare information for all transit services
in the Bay Area. Whether you are a newcomer to the San Francisco region or have lived here
for years, this Website provides information that makes it easier to get around on public
transit. Look up a schedule, plan a transit trip, check where a route goes, get information
about a transit provider - you can do all this in a single easy to use Website. Using the
511 Transit Trip PlannerSM, you can build a transit itinerary that
gets you where you want to go, when you want to go - on transit. If you are not familiar with
where you want to go, interactive maps can help find your destinations. Check out the list of
Popular Destinations that you can get to by using public transit.
511 Transit is a Part of the Bay Area Traveler Information Web Portal (www.511.org)
MTC's Traveler Information Web Portal provides comprehensive information about how to get around
in the San Francisco Bay Area. Whether you need transit, traffic, rideshare or bicycling
information, you can find it in a single place, a one-stop resource. For more information on
the features available on the Web through 511.org, click here.
But there's more to 511. 511 is also a toll-free telephone information number. This easy to
remember three-digit number provides up-to-the-minute information on traffic conditions and
incidents, details on public transportation routes and fares, instant carpool and vanpool
referrals, bicycling information and more.
History of the Transit Website
The origins of this transit Website go back to May of 1994, when two UC Berkeley
undergraduate students Mikael Sheikh and Daniel Gildea decided that they wanted to build a
comprehensive Bay Area transit information resource and host this service on the then nascent
World Wide Web. At that time, comprehensive, easily accessible region-wide transit information
did not exist. Each transit agency published its own information for its own service area and
none had a Web presence. Recognizing the potential usefulness of the World Wide Web well before
it caught on, Mikael and Dan envisioned a consolidated resource of transit information that
probably had not been done anywhere else, especially at the scale of transit service in the
Bay Area. They called themselves the Bay Area Transit Information Project. Because this
independent, volunteer effort had no public funding at the time, the first Web pages were
hosted on a fellow student's donated Web server.
Mikael and Dan worked with individual transit agencies developing customized methods and tools
for posting and updating schedule, route, fare and map data on the World Wide Web. Transit
agencies valued this new way of getting their service information out to the public and one
by one signed onto the project. But as the site grew, the data collection and update process
became too time consuming for the two students to manage in their spare time. Transit agencies
also began depending on the Website as a valuable part of their customer information process.
The raised expectations from transit agencies - and from the public - signaled the Website's
transition from a volunteer effort to a permanent feature of the Bay Area's transit
In June 1996, MTC contracted with Mikael and Dan to continue their efforts and expand the
information base to include all public transit services in the nine-county San Francisco Bay
Area. This next phase in the evolution of the Website was initially funded by a grant from
the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. In January, 1997, the Website's URL changed to
www.transitinfo.org to provide a more recognizable and permanent location. Around this time,
the site was physically relocated to server space donated by the Bay Area Rapid Transit
District (BART). In February, 1998, the site moved to a dedicated server located at MTC
offices in Oakland. Since June 1998, the project has been funded by MTC.
As part of a separate project and with the cooperation of regional transit agencies, MTC had
implemented a transit trip planning system that, given an origin and destination, would
compute a transit itinerary connecting the two points. This system had been developed
primarily for the benefit of telephone information operators in the different transit
agency call centers. In July, 2001, MTC developed a Web interface to this regional transit
trip planning system. This made it possible for anyone with Web access to generate, on his or
her own computer, transit trip itineraries much like telephone operators were able to do.
This tool is, of course, called TakeTransitSM.
In November, 2002, Dan and Mikael handed over the responsibility for maintaining and further
developing the Website to MTC and its contractor bd Spatial (formerly GIS/Trans, Ltd.).
Bd Spatial is responsible for designing, developing and implementing the Regional Transit
Information System (RTIS), the larger project under which the transit Website had been
In October 2003, the original Website became part of the 511 comprehensive traveler
information Web Portal. Through its RTIS project, MTC currently oversees all aspects of
this Website. With the significant cooperation of Bay Area transit agencies, MTC also
manages the process for entering and updating transit service information for the benefit
of the transit riding public.
October 28, 2003