While there’s nothing worse than missing a bus or train because there are simply too many people waiting to get on board, these days there is the added concern of being able to maintain social distancing during a pandemic.
To help people manage travelling on public transport in a safe and hygiene manner, Google has released new features for Google Maps on both Android and iOS, it announced in a blog post on Monday.
The new features include showing relevant alerts from local transit agencies, Covid-19 checkpoints and restrictions on a route you may be planning using the app, as well as eligibility and facility guidelines for those wanting to navigate to a Covid-19 testing centre.
To help maintain social distancing on public transport, starting on Monday Google Maps shows whether a particular train station or bus or tram stop is historically crowded at that time of the day.
Australia is one of the regions the features are being rolled out to first, along with Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and the US.
Google says the alerts use data sourced from authorities including local, state and federal governments, and that it is working to integrate authoritative data from other relevant agencies as well.
The new alerts add to the “crowdedness predictions” rolled out be Google for public transport in 2019, which Google says has been made possible by tens of millions of data points from past public transport passengers.
In February, Google also added new insights for public transport, including temperature, accessibility and security where possible. This also included where appropriate if there were designated women’s sections.
These features have now been rolled out globally, and Google is making it easier for Maps users to access the information via the app. To access the new public transport features, simply look up Directions, then tap Transit Details and scroll down to find the crowdedness predictions (if available for your route).
Users can also ad their own insights, helping to add to Maps to help make travelling easier for other passengers. However, Google says that crowdedness data is only used once the number of data points reaches a level that can ensure the anonymity of the data submitted.
Bridie Schmidt specialises in writing about new technology and how it can help solve the problems of carbon emissions and climate change. With a degree in Communications from Macquarie University, and 20 years experience in front end web development, she has freelanced as a web and graphic designer since 2001. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. You can email Bridie at [email protected].