There are few applications a city dweller will use as much as Google Maps, but for all its utility, the app doesn’t often account for the multitudinous possibilities of city transit. Sure, Google can tell me how long it would take me to travel via subway, cab, or bike, but any New Yorker knows getting somewhere fast often means combining a medley of transport options.
Maps users have had to rely on experience and intuition for multi-modal transportation, but today, Google announced a few new features to make those complex commutes easier. Next time you look for directions, you’ll see a ‘Mixed Modes’ section among your route options. This might combine a subway route with a bike or cab, for instance, changing tis recommendations depending on traffic. You’ll also get a preview of how much your mix-and-match route will cost.
Multi-modal transport can be invaluable in cities. On a typical day in Manhattan, bikes will be the fastest way to get around (assuming you’ve accepted the terror of biking in Manhattan), but the subway will often be faster over long stretches or between boroughs. Occasionally, a cab might be faster, particularly if you only need to take a straight shot down an avenue with no turns.
Being able to combine these options could save you a lot of time, or you might simply find them more convenient or fun. I’ve previously used apps like the excellent Citymapper for multi-modal transportation, but given the ubiquity of Maps, I’m glad to see Google acknowledging people combine transport options too.
The new route options will roll out to Android and iOS devices “in the coming weeks.”