Google Maps: Bus and Train Stations

Featured Image: 
Screenshot of Google Maps on iPhone displaying bus route options with Depart at tab highlighted.

Smart phones are used for navigation purposes by everyone, including people who are visually impaired. Google Maps has some interesting bus and train transit features that are especially beneficial for commuters with visual impairments.

You can view bus or train departures from Google Maps. Note: Some transit stations show real-time departures while others show a schedule of departures. Most transition stations also have their own real-time arrival/departure apps. Google Maps is accessible with a screen reader; however, the color coding (green is on schedule, red means delayed, black not updating in real time, and the warning symbol for construction or other delays) is not read by screen readers.

Step-by-step directions

The Google Maps website provides information and step-by-step directions for these features:

  • See nearby departures
  • See departures from a specific station
  • What the colors and icons mean
  • Add the Google Transit Departures widget on your iPhone or iPad

Google Maps announces YOUR stop

Google Maps has a new transit feature for Android phones. When taking public transit, this new feature will keep track of departure and estimated arrival times,and alerts you to your destination or transfer stop. To activate this feature:

  • Open Google Maps on your Android phone
  • Enter your destination
  • Select Transit options
  • Select your route
  • Select Start button

O&M Lessons

During O&M lessons, my students first learn to explore their transit options before taking a public bus or train. Using Google Maps, the student can view the various transit options, times, cost, etc. and can plan his/her route prior to being on-sight. As an O&M working predominately in rural areas without public transportation, it is challenging to work in routes that incorporate bus and train travel. Being able to plan a route and explore the area in lessons prior to the actual route, is not only good practice for route planning but also best practice for maximizing the time to actually ride the bus/train.

Pre-travel transportation lesson

  • Open Google Maps
  • Select Directions button
  • Type or Dictate your desired starting point (Your Location)
  • Type or Dictate your desired destination (Choose  Destination)
  • Select Transit
  • Swipe right multiple times to hear all the current options (bus options, ride services such as Lyft or Uber)
    • information about each option is available (cost, time, bus numbers, bus stop locations, etc.)

OR, to see the bus schedules,

  • Select the Depart at (will name the first time option)
  • Use the Picker to select your desired day, time, AM/PM 

Teaching Hint: When using the Picker, listen to the VoiceOver Hints. VoiceOver will announce the Picker Item and give directions on how to adjust the picker. (Swipe up or down with one finger to adjust the value.)