With gas prices still high and still in the news, anyone who's begun to seriously consider keeping their car parked in favor of public transportation may be interested in the latest service from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

According to CNET (NASDAQ:CNET) and a post on Google's blog, Google Labs is testing Transit Trip Planner, a service designed to map out the most direct public transportation route to a user's destination. Users enter their arrival and departure locations, and the dates and times they will be traveling. Google's service then scours public transportation sites to come up with an itinerary.

It also provides useful estimates that could make public transportation easier -- walking times to catch the nearest transportation on the route, lines, estimated travel time, and cost, among others. Thus far, the service is only available in Portland, Ore., but it seems many other metropolitan areas would clamor for such a service. (For the time being, it appears that Portland has the most state-of-the-art transportation network, but it stands to reason that many cities should follow suit.)

Like Google, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), and Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) America Online are all working on their own different angles to local search. Although Transit Trip Planner does not yet incorporate local search for businesses along the way, it's easy to see how simple it would be to give pedestrians an idea of where they can pick up a newspaper, their favorite cup of coffee, or a bouquet of flowers en route.

Meanwhile, Google's at the right place at the right time with this service. With gas prices still high, many Americans are likely tempted to use more public transportation. People are buzzing about the peak oil concept, and the traffic gridlock in many U.S. metropolitan areas is legendary. Still, habitual drivers like me can often find public transportation rather confusing. A service like this helps to clear up a lot of the mystery.

Google continues to come up with new ways to fit its search engine into our daily lives. Given the stock's dizzying upward trajectory, the folks investing in Google at its current price of 90 times earnings are surely hoping that this latest innovation will be worth the trip.

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Time Warner is a longtime Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. CNET is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.