How-To: Using Google Maps for Public Transit

Google has done a good job if integrating public transit options when looking at maps and navigation options.


Transit options and schedules

Google Maps is great for seeing navigation options, traffic, and travel estimates. But what if you don’t have a vehicle or wish to take public transit? Well, Google Maps now goes a step beyond just being a map for drivers.

Besides transit maps, Google Maps now provides, in many instances, real-time departure times. When that is not available, Google Maps will show you schedules for train and bus departures.

If you use public transit (and more of us should), knowing how to use Google Maps for public transit will make your commute planning easier, more accurate and faster.

Checking Departure Times

For our purposes, we will be planning a trip from Downtown Long Beach to Staples Center in Downtown L.A. We will be using the Blue Line, thus employing Google Map’s train options. Begin by performing the following:

  1. Open Google Maps. See Figure 1.

    Fig. 1
  2. Since we are using the Long Beach to Los Angeles Blue Line Train, we will click on the small train icon at the bottom of the screen. See Figure 2.

    Fig. 2
  3. You will immediately see the train route with stops, as designated by the blue lines and icons on the map. You may have to zoom to see the individual stops. See Figure 3.

    Fig. 3
  4. If needed, zoom in on the map and click on the station nearest you. The station name will appear on the bottom. See Figure 4.

    Fig. 4
  5. Slide up on your screen to see the stations details, including departure times. See Figure 5.

    Fig. 5
  6. Click on depart. You will be taken to an address screen. See Figure 6.

    Fig. 6
  7. Proceed to enter a destination address. Since we’re going to Staples Center to catch a game, simple begin to enter the venue name. Google will proceed to show your options. See Figure 7.

    Fig. 7
  8. After selecting Staples Center as your destination, Google Maps will show you commute times and route options. See Figure 8.

    Fig. 8

Switching from Train to Bus

The bus options are similar to train options. If you want to change options, perform the following:

  1. Click on the options link in the commute and route options screen seen in Figure 8 above.
  2. You can now select Bus, Subway, Train and Tram / Rail. Depending on your choice, the route options will change. For our example, select Bus and tap on Done. See Figure 9.

    Fig. 9
  3. Google Maps will now update your route and options. You now have the option of checking and changing your departure times or you can select your arrival time, which will automatically update your departure time. See Figure 10.

    Fig. 10

Updating departure and arrival times

  1. We will enter a departure time and then check the options. Enter the time you would like to depart and tap on Done. See Figure 11.

    Fig. 11
  2. The map is now updated, including your departure time and your travel estimates. See Figure 12.

    Fig. 12
  3. Click on the option that best suits your travel plans. The map will now update and show you directions, including walking estimates to the stations chosen, and travel estimates. See Figure 13.

    Fig. 13

Alternatively, you can switch from a departure time and instead plan your commute based on when you need to arrive. Google Maps will update the map navigation and route options after clicking Done.

Understanding the map

Just like when navigating via car, Google Maps shows the transit route and any delays. To understand the map, let’s see the icons employed and their meaning. See Figure 14.

Fig. 14

Clicking on the icons as they appear on the map will provide you with an update.

This completes this procedure.