Google adds real-time updates to transit directions

Screenshot for MBTA Live Update

Starting today, Google Maps will include real-time transit updates for selected systems. As announced on its blog, Google has partnered with six agencies for this service: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MA), Bay Area Rapid Transit (CA), TriMet (OR), San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (CA), Empresa Municipal de Transportes de Madrid (Spain) and Gruppo Torinese Trasporti in Torino (Italy). “This is exciting news for the MBTA and our riders,” Josh Robin of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation told The Transit Wire. “People already go to Google Maps for information. This feature means that more people will get access to real-time information.”

The six partner agencies worked with Google to develop specifications for describing real-time arrivals and service advisories to complement the General Transit Feed Specification. Just as agencies around the world use GTFS for sharing route and schedule data, the participating transit properties hope that this project will lead to widespread adoption of a new standard for real-time information feeds. “We’re looking to put useful, accurate BART information in as many places as we can,” said website manager Timothy Moore. “Google Live Transit Updates is another convenient option for BART riders, and the new data specification we’ve developed for sharing real time information will help us power even more new and innovative services in the future.”

Users can access the live updates via Google Maps for mobile on Android phones and at Google Maps on desktops and mobile browsers. And what’s next? “We are eager to partner with other agencies,” said Google strategic partner development manager Martha Welsh.

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