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I find using google maps for arrival time etc is really hard while on public transportation. Before the trip starts, easy. Using it while driving? Easy.

But I haven’t found a way to keep it from getting confused and staying confused once the trip starts. I’m hoping someone figured it out and there’s something I missing. Even when mass transit is the form of transportation chosen, the app generally doesn’t seem to be able to figure out I’m on the bus or train or whatever on the route. My experience is mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area.

5 Answers 5

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Forget Google Maps and download the Transit app.

This app, in particular the Transit "Go" feature, understands the concept of you being on a public transport vehicle, and will give details not just on when you will arrive, but will even notify you when it's your stop.

The catch is that it doesn't have anywhere near as good coverage as Google Maps from a global perspective, but given you specifically mentioned the SF Bay area, it's coverage there is excellent!

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  • I didn't know about this one, will try it out. I have been using Citymapper but it's not as good as it was.
    – Aaron F
    Nov 8, 2023 at 12:14
  • I've tried it this morning in Sydney, and it does not appear to know that you're already on a transport, which is what the question was about. It'll still route you from the nearest station/stop with the next train/bus, unless you fiddle with the starting point and times, just like other apps. Or am I missing something? — Otherwise, pretty neat app though.
    – deceze
    Nov 8, 2023 at 21:58
  • @deceze You need to enter the destination, pick the route, and then click on the "GO" button. Did you do that? (You can also just pick a specific bus/train/etc, and click on "GO")
    – Doc
    Nov 8, 2023 at 23:28
  • Probably not. From your description, I expected that it would offer something like "looks like you're on train ABC, wanna see where it goes?" So you do need to fiddle with the start and stop and possibly the times, but when you then "Go", you're saying it'll pick up in the middle of the itinerary?
    – deceze
    Nov 8, 2023 at 23:30
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Set the departure time in the past a little before you started the trip. This will produce your current trip as a result and the projected arrival time.

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  • I recall this was one of the first things I tried (including the time recently that led me to post the question) but it didn't work for me. Given the number of upvotes, I'll try again. I wouldn't expect it to work with rapid transit, as time to walk to the next stop will throw things way off, making it hard to set the departure time the right amount in the past to get an accurate projected arrival time - and also hard to tell if you have succeeded or not. Nov 11, 2023 at 8:21
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    @WHO'sNoToOldRx4Covid-CENSORED: I've done this many times, mostly in Germany. Just put in a start time and location that will produce your current trip. Could be your starting station just before you boarded, the previous station a few minutes ago or the next station using the current time.
    – Hilmar
    Nov 11, 2023 at 16:16
  • But your answer just says to change the time … now you’re saying to change the time and location. Sure, IF one manages to get them just right, it should work. But it’s hard to tell if one got them just right. At least if we’re talking about a form of transit that comes fairly frequently. In the case that prompted me to ask this question, I was on BART and trying to tell someone when I would arrive and I couldn’t do it. The times it was giving me were obviously wrong — obviously too early or late. Nov 17, 2023 at 3:37
  • Also, if one’s traveling on an unfamiliar route, it’s hard to remember where the stops are — when one tries to change the start location, the stops all disappear from the map, and the map shifts. So the answer seems to be to try a different app that handles this better, otherwise it’s difficult, at least on iOS. Nov 17, 2023 at 3:49
  • I just tried transit, as @Doc suggested, and oh my, it’s so much better! At least for the 300+ areas it covers. Nov 17, 2023 at 4:08
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I used this method in Japan, with train, metro and buses, but I think it is applicable everywhere with a good coverage by Maps:

  • Once you are on the bus/train, calculate the route using public transportation as desired mean, with departure "now". Alternatively, for increased precision, do it while you are at a stop along the line.
  • Google Maps will give you various options, one being to walk until the next stop on the line you are on and then take the transport you are on. If you calculated the route while at a stop, this walking time will be minimal.

That will tell you the expected arrival time.

Alternative is to calculate the route before hopping on, and keeping it open. The app will follow the route and you will see how far you are from your destination.

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    This method works only if the desired departure time is set to the past - google maps usually adds few minutes for walking to the platform, even if you are physically in the station. Nov 8, 2023 at 15:00
  • How is this answer different from "Use google maps and expect it to work?" I recall this was the first thing I tried (including the time recently that led me to post the question) but it also didn't work for me. I wouldn't expect it to work OK with rapid transit, as time to walk to the next stop will throw things way off, making it hard to set the departure time the right amount in the past to get an accurate projected arrival time - and also hard to tell if you have succeeded or not. Nov 11, 2023 at 9:05
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It is much better on Android than iOS. Here is what I do:

If I am already on the bus/train/tram/subway, I only have to 'reset' the leave/arrrive by time and that should show me where I am at the moment. This is better on Android because Google Maps has this feature called "Live activities" which for whatever reason does not work on iOS (you only get notifications which are not helpful.

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Set the Departure location a little bit ahead of your current location (i.e. tell it you're standing at the next bus stop / tube stop / train station).

This will produce the extension of your current trip as a result and the projected arrival time.

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