Google Maps Adds Transit Lines
Google has announced that its maps program, offered at maps.google.com, will now visualize transit lines, something it had not previously offered. The maps program has added “Transit” to the “More” tap located at the top right of the map window. The result is fantastic: geographic representations of transit lines in fifty cities around the world. Previously, Google had simply incorporated station sites into the maps – this addition provides a whole new interface and allows people to forgo official transit maps entirely as they plan their commutes.
Unfortunately, so far, the transit maps are only available in six U.S. and Canadian cities: Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Dallas, and Montréal. But the tool is likely to expand to a variety of other cities over time.
A few comments about using the program:
- When one clicks on a station, the routes serving that station are highlighted, while other routes fade away. This is a useful way to easily see where one can go directly from each station.
- Using the “Get Directions” system now makes a lot more sense, as the line being used to get around is highlighted, and the whole tool is more logical than it was before.
- In some cities, such as Chicago, bus lines are included on the maps once you zoom in close enough. The problem is that there are simply too many routes, and it becomes impossible to see which routes go where, so in this aspect, the program fails. Bus lines should probably be placed in a separate, optional layer in the future.
- While in the Europe and San Francisco, lines are tinted according to their official designations, in the other U.S. cities, all rail lines are colored the same, meaning that it’s difficult, once again, to differentiate between routes. Look at Dallas, Chicago, and Portland as examples.
- Overall, however, this is a much better experience than before and a useful device for transit users.