Google Maps adds real-time subway departure info

By · Published in 2013


With the MTA’s opening of their countdown clock API stream, Google announced today that it has added real-time subway departure information for seven New York City subway lines to its maps offerings. Those using Google Maps via desktop or mobile can now get live departure information based upon the MTA’s own countdown clocks for the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 42nd St. Shuttle. Eventually, as the MTA figures out how to bring such a system to other train lines, that information will wind up on Google Maps as well. For the Google-phobes among us, there’s always the clunky, yet functional, official Subway Time app.

Categories : MTA Technology

15 Responses to “Google Maps adds real-time subway departure info”

  1. John says:

    Ben, just curious if you know, why hasn’t the MTA included the L’s countdown information on their app?

    • I believe it’s a separate tracking system/datafeed, but I don’t know why it’s not a part of the API or why it doesn’t have its own API.

    • Patrick says:

      I know the L’s countdown clocks countdown clocks uses much different system to determine train times (something to do with CBTC) which probably uses a different system that would be incompatible with the system the numbered lines use.


    • Kai B says:

      In a previous article I read that the L will be added later this year.

  2. Bolwerk says:

    Cool. This is the type of thing that can make planning trips much more efficient. It’ll be especially good for those on trains like the M and G, when the MTA gets around to including them.

  3. alen says:

    embark has had this since last year

    • A bunch of apps have had this since the MTA opened up the Subway Time API, but Google has a user base that far outpaces platform-specific apps.

    • Patrick says:

      I believe apps like Embark use schedule data from trains (subway schedules actually do exist on MTA’s schedules page) and use that to provide times.

      The API feed that Google is using is real time data that the countdown clock system spits out.

      So Embark can tell youthat there’s a train scheduled to arrive at 1:20pm, but Google tells you that a train is actually arriving at 1:20pm.

      The schedule data that apps like Embark use are pretty close on to scheduled arrival times, but during times like rush hours subway schedules very quickly go out the window. That’s when Google’s type of data comes in handy, There’s actually a train arriving in 1 minute, not just scheduled to arrive.


  4. Sunny says:

    Awesome!!! Now only if Google could add BusTime-enabled routes and Metro-North…

  5. Yea says:

    I had previously noticed that the scheduled (not real-time) departure times on google maps seemed to be off, but the iTrans app’s times were better (especially during off-peak times). Does anyone know if google maps has updated their scheduled times?

  6. Sunny says:

    One problem I noticed…Google should suppress the non-real time trip data if the feed is working properly, as it shows trips and stops that aren’t happening (emergencies, GO’s, etc.)

  7. Matthew says:

    C’mon, San Francisco next!

  8. Nyland8 says:

    I, for one, would really like it if I could toggle LIRR, MetroNorth, NJTransit and Amtrak lines onto google maps. They already have a nice subway overlay that even follows the colors used by the MTA – and they already have all the commuter rail stations marked on the map.

    How hard would it be to assign a color, connect the dots with lines, and offers toggles to those four railways on their menu? Compared to what they’re already providing, it would be a piece of cake.

    If enough people requested it, I suspect Google could quickly and easily create those menu options. They could put it as a subset under transit.

  9. Ryan says:

    They’ve been doing that since 2011, I think.

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