Excellent news: Google has added a new layer to their maps application that will overlay local public transportation routes on top of your map and give you clear travel directions via public transportation in over 50 cities including Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle in the United States.
It's hard to overestimate, I think, how many people choose driving over public transportation because it requires less planning. You don't need to do any research to get in your car and drive somewhere. Public transportation schedules, on the other hand, can be dauntingly Byzantine. The incentive to familiarize yourself with public transportation routes is especially low in cities with spotty coverage where public transportation is only sometimes practical. And then it's easy to slip into a completely car-oriented life.I hope Google expands this option to other cities (Los Angeles?) soon.The Google LatLong blog has the details, including the full list of cities where the transit layer is available.Via PSFK.