Google Maps is a pretty comprehensive tool to help both individuals and businesses find the location they’re looking for, and it can usually help find the fastest route, too. This, however, hasn’t always been the case for non-major urban centers in the United Kingdom. Many mobile device users have been opting for more slickly designed apps that better incorporate public transportation options into the map routing process.
That is, until recently. In response to these rival apps, Google Maps has finally expanded its transit data, significantly adding more options for public transportation right into its interface. Now, users can use their iPhones, Android devices, or computers to check the routes and times for millions of different public transportation departures across what the company estimates to be 17,000 routes.
“You’ll now know when the next trip is departing, how many stops and how far your walk is between each station,” said Google’s David Tattersall. “You can also pick your preferred method of travel and whether you’d rather walk less or make fewer transfers, so you can compare and choose the best option for you.”
While Google Maps users in London could already access National Rail Services data and other public transportation options, the app now includes information on “every bus, train, tram and ferry” across the United Kingdom thanks to Traveline, an open transport data organization.
“While national rail data and public transport information is already available in Google Maps for some cities like London, we now provide coverage across the whole of Great Britain,” said Tattersall. “To make this happen we added schedules from National Express, and partnered with Traveline which collates the information from nearly 1,500 local and national operators like Centro and Merseyside.”
What’s particularly interesting is that the move may not entirely be brought on by a desire to appease hungry consumers, but rather to be more competitive in the app marketplace. Rival journey planning apps have been gaining more and more traction, as evidenced by Citymapper’s $10 million funding round.
Regardless of what might have prompted the update, it’s clearly another example of Google’s innovations that have helped make it king of the digital mount.