Google Maps to offer updates on public transit crowds and delays

The tech giant is now providing live data to transit riders to help them avoid crowding and practise physical distancing

As Toronto continues its slow march toward reopening from COVID-19 lockdown measures, it will become more important to know how busy parts of the city are in order to adequately physically distance. Technology has been stepping up to help with that

The latest Google Maps update tells you how busy the TTC is so you can avoid crowds on public transit. You can check crowdedness predictions or look up a specific subway station. Masks will become mandatory on the TTC starting July 2, but that doesn’t mean social distancing stops being important. 

The app will pull from historical data, telling you the days and times when certain stations are particularly busy. But it will also give you live data, comparing its busyness to the usual level of activity. 

The information comes from aggregated and anonymized data from users who’ve opted into sharing their location history with Google. You can also now directly submit your own live reports and feedback on the crowdedness of a particular station at a particular time. 

It’s one of many coronavirus-related updates the tech titan has added to its directions app recently. And with its next one, Google Maps will notify you if there’s a border restriction or checkpoint and navigate you toward COVID-19 testing centres, also sharing info about whether you need to make an appointment or if drive-through testing is available. 

By the end of April, the TTC experienced an 86 per cent drop in ridership after provincial emergency orders forced many businesses and workplaces to close. According to a report presented to the TTC Board on June 17, the current decline is now 82 per cent compared with pre-COVID ridership levels.

The report adds that – assuming elementary, high schools and more work places reopen by the fall – TTC ridership is expected to reach 30 to 60 per cent of normal levels. 


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