Google Maps Tells You How Empty An Oncoming Bus Is

Don’t you hate that sinking feeling when the bus you’ve been waiting for finally comes but is too full for you to board?

We could do without the heartbreak, and one remedy would be if we knew how empty the bus is before running for it.

Google Maps might just be our saviour, if Singaporeans’ recent observations are true — on top of showing arrival timings, it also estimates the availability of seats on an approaching bus.

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Find out how many seats are available

Some of us don’t mind a packed bus, as long as we squeeze onto the first available one and get away quickly. Others prioritise comfort and would rather wait for a fairly empty one to avoid brushing too close to the next person.

But waiting in uncertainty can be torture, especially if the intervals between the buses are well over 10 minutes.

You won’t have to wait very long for a sparsely filled bus if you know when exactly it will arrive, with the help of Google Maps.

This is basically how it works:

  1. Plan your journey on Google Maps
  2. Check bus arrival timing
  3. Check availability of seats on the bus
  4. If the first bus is full, you can check for the next bus

For easy visualisation, here’s what the initial planned journey will look like.

Image taken from Google Maps

Since the bus is fairly filled, you can check how empty the next bus would be, and when it will reach your stop.

Image taken from Google Maps

Fewer shaded human figures means more seats available on the bus.

Users curious about how it works

While the cool feature is pretty amazing, many users are puzzled about how Google Maps gets the estimation.

Some suggest that several factors like frequency of buses and human traffic at starting points come into play.

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There’s reportedly even a prompt that asks for users to rate how empty the bus is, though we’re not sure how many people have encountered that.

A more likely method is that Google Maps receives information from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and estimates from there.

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LTA’s reminder for commuters to always tap in and out of buses may prove useful after all, if this new feature is the outcome of that.

To smoother journeys from now on

With this new feature, perhaps the days of running pointlessly after a crowded bus will be no more.

We can take public transport with some peace of mind and in comfort.

We wonder what else might be in store to improve commuters’ experience. Share your opinions on possible changes in the comments below.

Featured image from Reddit.