Google Maps app adds real-time service updates for Metro


The Google Maps app is seen on an Apple iPhone 4S on Dec. 13, 2012 in Fairfax, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
March 27, 2013

Trip planning on local public transit just got a little easier, thanks to Google’s announcement Wednesday that it has added real-time service alerts from Metro to the Google Maps app for smartphones.

Google now shows users not only how to get from Point A to Point B but also whether there’s track work on the Red Line or a delay holding up the Blue Line, for example. Any active alerts affecting a particular station should show up in the search, said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.

The update is a part of a larger change to the firm’s transit searches, said Google’s Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, a partnership development manager.

Esmaeilzadeh said the company now provides information on more than a million stops around the world and was happy to partner with Metrorail to provide service alert information alongside its directions.

She said Google sees this as a way to improve the Maps experience. “When people are on the go, they can check for directions and [an alert] pops up,” she said, adding that it could help commuters trying to figure out their travel time.


Google is adding real-time service alerts for Metro to its Maps app. (Courtesy of Google/Courtesy of Google)

The company already provides information on fares, planned departures, estimated travel time and walking directions.

Stessel, the Metro spokesman, said the Google alerts build on Metro’s existing service alert and advisory system. Any active alerts — whether they’re for planned or unplanned delays — should show up in the system. Because the app is focused on real-time searches, users will not get a warning about coming maintenance, Stessel said.

With the advisory system already in place, “it is a logical extension to use those messages,” he said. “It’s a partnership that totally makes sense and is in our interest to get this out in as many ways as possible.”

Google also announced that it will now show real-time departures on seven New York subway lines and on buses in Salt Lake City.

Esmaeilzadeh said the company hopes to expand these real-time services in more places around the world.

In a company blog post, Google said it now provides transit information in 800 cities. Previously, the company had counted 500 cities as a part of its service. Google spokeswoman Sierra Lovelace said notable additions included Paris, Prague and Munich.

The alerts are available on Google’s Maps app for its own Android operating system and for Apple’s iOS devices.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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