How New Google Maps Features Encourage Sustainable Travel

New features in Google Search and Google Maps encourage users to consider sustainable transport, hoping to reduce the considerable impact of travel

Are you a Google Search or Google Maps user? You’re not alone – Google Maps has over one billion monthly users and approximately 99,000 search queries are processed by Google every second, resulting in about eight and a half billion searches daily and roughly two trillion global searches annually, or hundreds of millions of users daily.

So, Google is supporting its users in finding more sustainable transport methods. 

“When it comes to travelling and commuting, we want people to have the right information to make more sustainable choices,” says James Byers, Group Product Manager, Search.

“With new updates to features in Maps and Search, you can find convenient public transit and walking routes, see alternatives to air travel and better understand the estimated emissions of flights.”

James Byers, Group Product Manager, Search at Google.

James has been at Google since 2017, moving from Cloud to Search in 2021. An alumni of economics and management at Cornell University, he founded WikiSpaces in 2004 and grew monthly visitors to 50 million before 2014 when it was acquired by TES. James was the Global Director of Marketplace at TES until joining Google. 

Google supports sustainable user decisions 

Despite growing travel demands post-Covid, to reach the global sustainability goals and reduce global warming the transport sector needs to reduce emissions by around a quarter by 2030. 

The updates to Google Search and Google Maps are designed to encourage users looking for travel information to consider the environmental impact of their decisions. 

In Maps, this comes in the form of a new feature that suggests public transport or walking options where travel times are comparable to driving routes. In Search, a new expanded feature supports users finding information on buses and long distance train routes. 

Last year, a new sustainable Search feature gave users looking for flight information about train routes, which is now being rolled out to Google Flights too. The Travel Impact Model (TIM), a methodology published by Google and created by James in 2022 for predicting per-passenger flight emissions, filters results in Google Flights by lower-emitting options – this has been made more accessible in the update.

James concludes: “While there’s still a long road ahead when it comes to sustainable travel, today’s updates will give more people the information they need to choose lower-carbon alternatives.”


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