Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Train Search Part 2: Goo Browser-Based Search


PROS:  Departure, arrival, last train, and connecting station (経由駅).  Option to retrieve train schedule. Option for train advisories. Allows English without requiring "station" to be written. Option to change departure/arrival time by present amount (for example 5 minutes). Advanced/detailed settings can be accessed from the top page with one click.

CONS:  No ability to retrieve schedule for stations at which you change trains. Train schedules are static - they cannot be browsed to get detailed information about the stops/times of a particular train. The top page is typical of many Japanese websites in that it contains "PR" links and whatnot that are of no direct use to searching for a train schedule.

DROIDS: three-point-five (out of five)

The Goo browser-based search site provides better functionality than Google's site for train route searches.  The backend database is limited to train stations only, so it does not get confused when the word "tokyo" is entered as opposed to "tokyo station." The detailed settings, such as prioritizing by either number of connections, total price of the fare, or the total time required for the trip, are more quickly and easily accessed from the goo site. This probably reflects Google's simplistic approach to  organization (no irrelevant links to other sites/services

The first items below the site title are links to Goo's new map page, Goo's search widget (which is linked to a i-mode site not accessible from an Android phone, nor renderable on a PC), and a mailing list signup.  These extra pixels make page just long enough that all of the relevant information cannot be displayed on our screen without scrolling.

Below the fields for entering the starting and ending station names, are (in this order) 1) search now, 2) detailed search (includes adding connecting stations, changing the date/time, and prioritizing price, speed, number of connections), 3) search by station name, 4) search last train departure, 5) train schedule, and 6) train advisories.  Everything further below is completely irrelevant.

Clicking the detailed settings brings up this menu.  In between the departure and arrival station is an option for a single connection.  Below time and date, (from left to right) options to select departure time, arrival time, or last train.  The next line down contains buttons to select to prioritize by speed (blue background kanji), price (yellow background), or "fun" (pink).  Below this are an option for including express trains that require an additional charge and an option for selecting reserved seat.

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