Google Maps to predict how busy public transport will be

Posted on July 2, 2019


Online giant Google has recently announced that it will be giving its Google Maps service a new update that will offer live traffic information to commuters.

The update will offer users real-time traffic delays for buses in cities where it did not already provide live updates, with the second update predicting how busy a specific train, bus or subway service will be.

It is the second update that is perhaps the more interesting of the two. This is because it represents the introduction of a new prediction technique that Google has been working on for more than six months. From October 2018, Google began to ask users of Google Maps to rate journeys should they have commuted during the peak times of 6am-10am. It asked for information about how many seats on a particular service were available, or whether it was standing room only. This allows the company to identify which services had the most reports of overcrowding.

After several months of collecting data, Google was then able to model this data into a prediction capacity that had been designed to tell commuters how busy their train or bus would be. Google also used this information to create a set of rankings determining the most crowded routes, stops and services across the globe.

In these rankings, South American cities Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires dominated the table for most-crowded, with each of the two cities having three transit lines within the top 10. The L train from New York was the only US-based service within the top 10.

This isn’t the first time that Google has introduced a feature telling users how busy amenities are. A couple of years ago, it launched a similar feature that told users how many people were likely to be at restaurants, shops, gyms and other similar businesses were at particular times during the day.

To make its predictions, Google combines bus route details with the data it has been collecting from users, which is a similar mechanism to the one used to predict crowds at restaurants and other businesses.

The introduction of features such as this, Google is turning Maps into a more powerful service that understand the movements and habits of people. With the latest update, users will be able to see whether there are any delays, how long it will be and updated travel times based on live information.

Google is now in the process of rolling out these features within Google Maps, which will be done for approximately 200 cities around the world. It will be available on both iOS and Android versions of Google Maps.

Operations Manager at Engage Web
Drawing from a broad pool of experience that ranges from university studies in English Language to his work as a medical receptionist in a busy GP practice, Alan fits right at home as Engage Web’s Operations Manager.
Alan Littler

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