Google Maps Will Now Predict How Crowded Buses And Trains Are

Photo: Stephen Chernin (Getty)

Google Maps may still lead drivers into mud pits in empty fields, but the service is making changes to maps that will hopefully improve the transit commuter experience.

The company announced on Thursday that it is releasing an update that is supposed to show how crowded buses, subways, and trains are. It will also provide traffic delay updates for buses in many cities that didn’t already have such a feature. According to a blog post about the updates, these features will affect nearly 200 cities globally.

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Google explained the bus-crowdedness-prediction-feature is based on a technique that Google has been honing for several months. Since October, Google has been asking its Map users to share information about their commute in the morning, prompting riders to rate their experience and count how many seats are available or if riders have to stand. That data was reportedly used to build a prediction model.

So now in select cities, when commuters search a route on Google Maps, on Android and iOS devices, the app should share messages like, “Usually standing room only—Based on ratings by other people on Google Maps.”

Image: Google
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Google shared some of the data in a blog showing the world’s most crowded transit line. The report states that Buenos Aires has the first, third, and sixth most crowded lines in the world. New York’s L train is the tenth most crowded line, according to Google.

As TechCrunch points out the service works similarly to how Google Maps has been predicting crowdedness and stores and restaurants since 2017.

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The information that feeds these real-time predictions comes from users who have (wittingly and unwittingly) granted Google consent to use their anonymized data.

For those that don’t want to contribute to Google’s growing awareness of how everyone moves across the planet, here’s a handy guide to deleting all the data Google has collected on you.

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About the author

Jennings Brown

Senior editor and reporter at Gizmodo