Thursday, May 23, 2024

Google's new features can help you make more sustainable travel decisions. Here's how

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Many factors go into picking the best route for a journey, including commute time, cost, and, for some, sustainability. Selecting the most sustainable option, however, can be difficult as data isn’t always readily available.

Google today announced new and expanded features in Google Maps and Google Search that help users make more sustainable choices, including easier access to public transit and walking routes, air travel alternatives, and more. 

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In Maps, Google is adding a feature that presents users with public transit or walking suggestions next to driving routes when travel times are comparable. For example, in the photo below, Maps presented the user with a public transportation route that is three minutes faster than the driving time:

Google Maps new feature

Google

Google says the feature will be available in the coming weeks in 15 cities globally, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Montreal, Paris, Rome, and Sydney. 

Google is also expanding a Search feature that lets users find information on long-distance train routes to also show schedules, bus routes, ticket prices, and links on the results page. This expanded feature is available now for trains in 38 countries, and long-distance bus routes in 15 countries.

To help users make well-informed decisions about booking a flight, Google is expanding Google Search’s train route suggestions feature, which proposes train routes as alternatives to flights, to Google Flights.

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In situations when taking a flight is the best or only option, Google Flights will continue to include estimated emissions for every flight in search results, giving users insights to help them pick the option with the lowest emissions.

The flight emission insights are powered by Google’s Travel Impact Model (TIM) methodology. To make this information more accessible, Google plans to also make the insights available through a developer API, Google Sheets add-on, and a calculator on the TIM website.

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