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July 02, 2019

New Google Maps Feature Predicts Bus Delays

Mandi Renshaw

Bumper to bumper traffic.

Picture this: you wake up earlier in the morning than usual to catch the bus so you’re able to get to school or work on time. You get to the stop you usually wait at, but soon come to realize the bus is 10 minutes behind schedule and you’re going to be late. Unfortunately such events may be inevitable due to traffic congestion or possible maintenance issues, but with the new features that have been recently added to Google Maps, your daily commute can be made much easier.

Released late last week, Google announced that Maps is now capable of predicting a variety of factors that can affect your trips to work or school. The most significant new factor that it accounts for is bus delays. Using data from transit agencies and real-time traffic forecasts, the app is capable of telling you how late your bus might be on any route in various cities. Aside from useful transit information and predictions, artificial intelligence (AI) ultimately serves as the main ingredient in making this feature possible.

What is AI?

Generally speaking, artificial intelligence is software that is programmed to analyze data and discover patterns in order to learn, similarly to how humans learn (but more brute-force in terms of number crunching) for the purpose of solving real world problems – even problems that are either too complicated or tedious for humans to solve alone. This is only the basic definition of AI, but you can learn more about machine learning applications in transit if you are interested.

How is it useful?

Have you ever wondered how Google knows what you’re trying to search for based solely on one or two words? Have you ever asked Siri to call or text someone for you and it can recognize and parse your speech with accuracy? You may not know it, but you already use some form of AI in everyday life. AI and machine learning is built into the software products that you use on a daily basis and it makes virtually everything much more convenient and less time consuming.

How does it make my commute easier?

You’ll essentially be able to plan ahead with the launch of these features! Before leaving the house to make your way to the bus stop, you’ll be able to plug in your destination and be notified of any possible delays. This would allow you to possibly change routes or use other forms of transportation so you’re able to get where you need to be both on time and hassle free.
What’s even more convenient is that you don’t have to worry about any of our old stops, because Maps is already updated with the new routes that took effect just this week! To make traveling even easier, be sure to also use the Plan My Trip feature on the homepage of our website which is powered by Google Maps.

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