Transit users might take it for granted now, but it wasn't long ago that taking transit was more of a guessing game than it is today. To plan a transit trip ahead of time you had to navigate a transit agency website and pull up a PDF of the bus schedule only to see that the stop you're using isn't on the list of major stops or the schedule is out of date.
Before Google Maps integrated data from transit agencies back in 2005 that was normal. Fast forward seven years and Google Maps has data available for 1 million transit stops (for subway, light rail, trams, and buses) from about 500 cities around the world.
And with smartphones, the information is even more useful and the transit guessing games are becoming a thing of the past. As Christopher Van Der Westhuizen a software engineer for Google Maps put it: "Public transportation information is especially useful when it’s in the palm of your hand."
For Android users, Van Der Westhuizen, announced that even more transit information will be available in an update of the Google Maps for Android app. Specifically, the update includes a transit layers feature to make it easier to see a specific form of transit when many are available in a crowded urban area, along with updated layouts of station pages.
Google Maps has been a game changer for transit users. The access to better, cleaner, and more efficient transit information means that more people with transportation options might choose public transit. It's an impressive feat considering it was a side project for Google employees.
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