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Google Maps adding wheelchair-accessible routes for bus and train journeys

Google has introduced a new 'wheelchair accessible' filter for public transit routes in five major cities around the world.

Published onMarch 16, 2018

Google Maps.
  • Wheelchair accessible filter added to Google Maps for public transit navigation.
  • Feature rolling out now for five major global cities: Boston, London, Tokyo, Sydney, and Mexico City.
  • Wider rollout expected in the coming months.

Google Maps has added a navigation filter for buses and trains that identifies the best route for users with mobility needs. “Wheelchair accessible” routes are now rolling out to five metropolitan cities with major transit links from around the world: Boston, London, Tokyo, Sydney, and Mexico City.

As the name suggests, the feature is intended to help people who use wheelchairs, but Google is also aware that anyone with mobility issues – as well as families with baby strollers – could benefit from the wheelchair-friendly routes.

How to use Google Maps offline
Google Maps GPS Nagivation stock photo

To activate the feature, all you have to do is head to Google Maps (on mobile or desktop) and input directions for public transport like you normally would.

Then, before selecting a route hit the “Options” menu and change the tick to “Wheelchair accessible” under the preferred route column.

Once that’s done, Maps will then show the best possible route while taking into account the availability of mobility aids such as wheelchair accessible stops, platforms, entrances, and exits at transit stations.

Google explained in a blog post that much of the data was gathered as part of its Local Guides program. Over 12 million places have been assessed by Local Guides over the course of 200 global meet-ups late last year.

It’s likely that the volume of accessibility-related data will continue to increase as more Local Guide answers are taken into consideration. Google also notes that it has updated Street View imagery of city centers and transit stations to give users an up-to-date preview of the area ahead of time.

While there’s no exact road plan for a wider rollout, Google said that it is hoping to join forces with more transit companies to add wheelchair accessible routes in more cities around the world in the “coming months”.

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