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Google Maps will help you avoid crowded mass transit in way more cities

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Expanding to ‘over 10,000 transit agencies in 100 countries’

Where available, users can report on how busy a transit option is.
Image: Google

Google is expanding the number of cities where Maps offers information about public transport crowding. The number of cities covered is increasing from around 200 today, to “over 10,000 transit agencies in 100 countries,” the company says. As well as crowdedness, Google says Maps is also being updated to offer more information about past travel.

Google Maps’ crowdedness information originally launched pre-pandemic in 2019, but over the past year social distancing has made it more important than ever. Crowdedness information is generated from a mixture of historical location data, as well as self-reporting from Maps users on individual trains. Google says it anonymizes the location history data used.

Google is testing giving information on the crowdedness levels of individual carriages.
Image: Google

As well as expanding the crowdedness predictions to more cities, Google is also making them more granular in New York and Sydney. In these cities users will see how crowded individual train carriages are instead of just general crowding on the transit line. The feature works using data provided by transit agencies themselves, and Google says it plans to expand the capability to more cities soon.

A new timeline feature shows details about past journeys.
Image: Google

Google is also adding a couple of new features to Maps’ Timeline section on Android, which is accessible by tapping your profile image and then selecting “Your Timeline.” A new “Insights” tab shows trends about the amount of time and distance you’ve spent using different transport methods and the places you’ve visited. There’s also a “Trips” tab that gathers together places visited, including the option to export them as a list if you want to pass them on as travel recommendations.

Alternatively, if you don’t like the reminder of how much data Google Maps is capable of collecting about you over time, you can turn this off (and lose access to the new Timeline features) by disabling Location History on your phone.

Finally, Google is also offering more review options for restaurants in the US, with new prompts to share information about meal pricing and whether you got takeout and delivery. The new review options are available on both iOS and Android, and Google says they’ll eventually be available for businesses beyond restaurants.