New features launched to support tackling COVID-19
In Google’s words, ‘getting from A to B can be more complicated these days’. With COVID-19 across the world at the moment, it’s increasingly important to know how crowded a train station might be at a particular time or whether your regular bus route has been cancelled. Having this information before and during your trip is critical for both essential workers who need to safely navigate to work and will become more important for everyone as countries around the world begin to reopen.
With that in mind, Google Maps has been updated on Android and iOS, introducing features to help you easily find important information if you need to venture out, whether it’s by car or public transport.
Get alerts about important information
When you look up public transit directions for a trip that is likely to be affected by COVID-19 restrictions, Google Maps will show relevant alerts from local transport agencies. These alerts can help you prepare accordingly if government rules impact transport services or require you to wear a mask on public transportation.
Transit alerts are rolling out in the UK, along with Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand and the USA, with more expected soon.
Safely avoid crowds on public transit
Last year, Google introduced crowdedness predictions for public transit in Google Maps. Using tens of millions of contributions from past users, these predictions help people see how crowded a particular bus line or train tends to be. Google’s latest update makes it simpler for people to contribute crowdedness information for their transport service. Look up Directions, tap through to see the Transit Details, then scroll down to find crowdedness predictions (where available) and add your own info if you feel it will help others.
Previous new features from earlier in 2020 will also help. New insights like temperature, accessibility and security onboard, as well as designated women’s sections in regions where available. These insights are now rolled out globally, helping you find feedback from past riders when available and submit your own, right alongside public transit routes.
To help wheelchair users around the world know before they go, Google have added more granular accessibility information for people to find and contribute, including where there are wheelchair accessible doors, seating and stop buttons.
Find and contribute crowd information for transit lines.
To ensure proper social distancing, commuters are paying attention to how crowded or comfortable their ride and train station will be. Starting today, you can easily see the times when a station is historically more or less busy to plan your trip accordingly or you can look at live data showing how busy it is right now compared to its usual level of activity.
Simply search for a station in Google Maps or tap on the station on the map to see the departure board and busyness data, where available. Rolling out over the next several weeks, the features are powered by aggregated and anonymised data from users who have opted in to Google Location History, a Google account-level setting that is off by default.
COVID-19 has certainly impacted the way that we move around in the world. As cities and countries across the globe adapt, this update is a welcome addition to Google Maps to hopefully help us all get around safely.
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