A true New York subway rider will know exactly where on the on the train to stand to get off nearest to the exit, the swift and effective swipe of a Metrocard, and how to balance inside a train car without holding onto the rails. What we normally can’t anticipate, however, are random service disruptions that often plague the city’s intricate public transportation system. Up until this week, Google Maps is a good source of getting estimated train arrival times and exact directions of how to get from point A to B, but this information never included planned delays and constructions. Until now.
Starting today, Google Maps will now display planned service disruptions at every one of the city’s 468 subway stations, and take that into account when calculating the best travel route. The updated feature will be available via the Web app and on Google Maps in iOS and Android. The integration of real-time service will be useful for both native New Yorkers and visitors alike, helping travelers efficiently get around the city without the formerly inevitable frustration that come with surprise train disruptions. How many times have you felt stranded after finding out your train is skipping your local station? At least now you can plan for it, even if it won’t alleviate the annoyance.
It’s about time Google Maps added real-time transit updates, considering several other apps have been doing the same for quite a while. HopStop is one that reliably takes service disruptions into consideration when routing your travel, while Embark is a neat little app that will even work underground where most New York train stations lack connectivity. For those who didn’t use these apps, they would have to check up on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)’s The Weekender to ensure their trains are running smoothly.
Google’s real-time transit delays have previously been available for six other cities: Boston, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Madrid, Spain and Turin, Italy. Surprisingly, such feature has not been added to Google Maps’ London public transit direction despite the ongoing 2012 Olympics. With the addition of New York City, we hope to see other major spots included in this list to make traveling in foreign places a bit easier to tackle. Perhaps it’s too little too late, but this would be a nice step to winning back some companies, including Foursquare and Apple, in considering Google Maps as part of their service again.