Bus passengers in Bristol will be able to see how crowded the bus they are hoping to catch will be.
Google has just rolled out a new programme called ‘transit crowdedness predictions’ so passengers at bus stops will get an indication of whether they will be squashed like sardines or have the back seat to themselves on their bus into town or work.
The internet giant has launched the feature on Google Maps and Google search when people plan a route, or click on a bus stop and a specific approaching bus.
It’s being rolled out in 18 cities and towns, including Bristol, today, and 200 cities across the world.
Google traffic maps already show up-to-the-second information on traffic jams on the roads – and does that using the location of people’s mobile phones as they are stuck in traffic or moving more slowly than the road normally expects.
But Google hasn’t quite worked out yet how to transfer that information to the number of people sitting on actual buses – the predictions won’t contain live data, but will use predictions on reports of how crowded or empty the buses usually are at that time of day.
But the up-to-the-minute data WILL be used to provide something many bus passengers will long for – telling people how and why their buses will be delayed.
With Bristol’s traffic, the city’s buses are often caught up in gridlock – and that leaves passengers miles away stranded at bus stops where no bus will come for ages.
A spokesperson for Google said the new features will hopefully cut the stress of waiting for a bus.
“Google Maps is launching live traffic delays for buses in places where we don’t already have real-time information direct from local transit agencies,” she said.
“You’ll now be able to see if your bus will be late, how long the delay will be, and more accurate travel times based on live traffic conditions along your route.
“You’ll also see exactly where the delays are on the map so you know what to expect before you even hop on your bus,” she added.