Google has launched the “public transport” option it announced at its Google for Nigeria event earlier this year – Traffic. At an event today, the tech giant walked guests through the feature, its availability and partners it worked with to get it out into the world. Until now, Google Maps users have only been able to access information for other forms of transportation including cars, 2-wheelers, BRT and ride hailing.
The new Traffic feature offers a new directions experience, which features suggested routes which may combine walking, taking a Keke or okada, Danfo or BRT. Information about the estimated fare range, expected travel time and pictures of the stops along the route are now available to aid travellers on their trips around Lagos. Clicking on the pictures will allow users to get a 360 degree view on StreetView to help them better understand their location.
Speaking on the new feature, Jeff Albertson, Senior Product Manager, Google Maps, said,“What we have built for Lagos is a global first for Google Maps, and a step towards helping people in many other cities where transport can be informally organized as it is in Nigeria.” Though, Google confirmed that it might be launching this feature in other cities, for the near future Lagos is the only location in the world with the Traffic directions feature.
The project was carried out in partnership with Road Preppers, the same company behind the Lara.ng transit bot. Tosin Dada-Phillips, Product Evangelist at Road Preppers said it offered its public transit expertise for the project, stating that it was a valuable development for Lagos’ 12 million daily commuters who use its over 2,500 bus stops daily.
For now, the traffic feature will only be available on Android and Google did not give a timeline for availability on iOS. Also, some journalists at the launch event discovered that it was still a bit buggy – giving wrong directions this particular instance – and Google said it needed such feedback to be able to tighten up features functionality.
It also repeatedly encouraged users to give it feedback via maps suggesting that using its resources to figure out public transit in one of the most difficult cities to navigate in the world is an important play for the company.