Comparing Driving to Transit in the Next Version of Google Maps

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Michael is senior tech advisor for Mobility Lab. He specializes in photography and cool transportation visualizations, and he leads Transportation Techies DC.
June 6, 2013

Google is beginning to unveil its new version of Google Maps. The functionality for directions will let you quickly compare driving a car to taking transit.

I tried it out by asking for directions in Washington D.C. from Nationals Park to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. It defaulted to showing the best route for driving a car (in blue), but also showed two alternatives, for the subway (Metrorail) and for “transit” (mixing Metrorail and Metrobus), shown in grey.

Each route is labeled with the estimated time. The driving route also shows the distance, while the transit choices will be labeled as direct, or show the number of transfers needed.

Clicking on the Transit link shows an option for riding the bus to Metrorail’s Yellow Line, which connects to the airport.

Clicking on the Subway label uses the Green Line instead of the bus, then transfers to the Yellow Line at the same spot. The Metro routes are drawn using the colors of the lines.

The control panel shows more information and options:

You can click on Options to go to a new page with more control.

One of the panels show all the various itineraries you would take, sorted by departure time. It’s a great way to see how your options vary. The screenshot below is hard to read because I had to shrink it, but what it’s showing is a different itinerary in each row. Each itinerary is color-coded to show when you’re on a certain train, or waiting at the transfer.

You might remember my own effort, a few months ago, to let users compare driving to transit in Side-by-Side Router Compares Driving, Walking, Biking, and Transit. Google’s version of course is much more robust.

It’s great that Google Maps will now let people know what their transit options are even if they’re just looking for driving directions.

The new Google Maps has many other features, but to try it out before its official debut you have to be invited. You can “request an invite” here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Milk June 19, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Google Maps always defaults to driving times and directions, even when Google Now shows me my time and directions to work in transit. Hopefully they work it out to set default directions/times to transit or bike.

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avatar Michael June 19, 2013 at 4:39 PM

The new Maps does integrate with Google Now. And for transit times, you can adjust when you want to travel.

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