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My general question is as listed in the title - does Google Maps have ferry schedules and make use of them in selecting a recommended route?

As a specific example, suppose I'm in Wałbrzych in Poland, and I ask Google Maps to get me to Nykøbing Falster in Denmark, and I want to leave now. For this journey there there are two possible ferries: Rødby-Puttgarten or Gedser-Rostock. To determine the optimal route, Google Maps should estimate how long it will take me to get to Puttgarten and then how long I'll have to wait for the next ferry departure, vs. estimating how long it will take me to get to Rostock and how long I'll have to wait for a ferry departure there. Plus the ferry sailing times and the times from Rødby or Gedser to Nykøbing Falster.

But a calculation like that requires that Google Maps has a database with the ferry schedules. Does it?

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    I tried a crude experiment, plugging those locations into Directions and changing the "depart at" time, and it looks like they don't take into account the actual schedules, and only have routes and approximate durations - it makes no noticable difference to Google's calculations whether you arrive at the ferry terminal at 4pm or 4am... – user56reinstatemonica8 Oct 3 '17 at 18:04
  • Depends on the location. Here's a route in Japan including ferry times. – muru Oct 4 '17 at 3:21
  • Just to clarify: Are you using Google Map's car trip planner or are you trying to plan a trip using public transport? If the question is about car routing, choster's answer is probably wrong. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Oct 4 '17 at 11:16
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo For car navigation. And not for ahead-of-time planning, for on-the-spot "I wanna get home as soon as possible", with unknown start time until after other work is done. (Assuming home = Nykøbing Falster.) – RenniePet Oct 4 '17 at 19:15
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To be included in Google Maps for trip planning, Google must be able to import its schedule data, for example through a GTFS Static or GTFS Realtime feed. A Google Transit Partner relationship might also be required, however, so simply appearing on TransitFeeds or the like is probably not a reliable guide, or at least less reliable than simply plugging your origin and destination into Google Maps and seeing what results you get.

[edit]

Scandlines operates both the Gedser-Rostock and Puttgarden-Rødby ferries, but the results seem to differ depending on whether you plan the trip as a drive, a walk, or using public transportation. As noted by @Tor-Einar Jarnbjo in comments,

… Google does indeed use GTFS to incorporate route planning for public transport in Google Maps, but the currently supported GTFS version does not distinguish between passenger and car ferries. Without knowing the details, I would expect car ferries to be modeled in Google Maps as roads with a special attribute and not as public transport. Actually, if you plan a trip using public transport, both ferries (Rostock-Gedser and Puttgarden-Rødby) are being known to and used by Google Maps with the correct schedule

Google does incorporate schedule information for, for example, the Staten Island Ferry in New York. You can looking through the list of cities covered to see if it's worth a go.

  • Thanks, also to @user568458. I should have thought of trying to experiment with the route myself. Interesting information you provide. – RenniePet Oct 3 '17 at 18:18
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    I can also say from personal experience Google Maps knows the schedules of the Washington State Ferries, which cross various locations in the Puget Sound dozens of times daily. – Azor Ahai Oct 3 '17 at 18:19
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    I understand the question to relate to ferries being used as part of a car trip and if so, I believe your explanation here to be incorrect. Google does indeed use GTFS to incorporate route planning for public transport in Google Maps, but the currently supported GTFS version does not distinguish between passenger and car ferries. Without knowing the details, I would expect car ferries to be modeled in Google Maps as roads with a special attribute and not as public transport. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Oct 4 '17 at 2:17
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    Actually, if you plan a trip using public transport, both ferries (Rostock-Gedser and Puttgarden-Rødby) are being known to and used by Google Maps with the correct schedule. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Oct 4 '17 at 2:26
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Thanks, that is very useful information. I edited to incorporate it wholesale. – choster Oct 4 '17 at 11:55

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