Google is updating some of its apps to provide more sustainable options for commuters.

With new updates to Google Maps and Google searches, there will be new alternatives for people like walking and convenient public transit alternatives. In addition, the updates provide alternatives to flying and more information on the estimated emissions from a flight.

Alternative Low-Carbon Options

Google Maps
An example of Google Maps comparing a car ride to a bus ride; Photo: Google

Among the latest updates to Google Maps is the sustainable transportation option. The alternative shows public transportation and walking routes next to the “drive” option. However, according to the company, this option only appears if the estimated travel times are comparable and practical. This option is not available yet but will be in over 15 cities around the world. Among the list of fifteen are Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Montreal, Paris, Rome and Sydney. 

In addition, Google is making public transportation schedules more transparent in searches. For example, an expanded feature in searches helps find information for users regarding long-distance train routes. Additionally, the update is adding support for buses as well. For instance, if someone searches for a train from one city to another, Google provides schedules and ticket prices along with additional links to complete your booking. This feature is available for trains in 38 countries and for buses in 15 countries, both options are available in the United States.

Google search
An example on Google Search of a train ride’s schedule and pricing from Boston to Philadelphia; Photo: Google

Some destinations may not be obvious if a train is a good alternative for flying. Last year, Google started to roll out train suggestions when looking for flights on Search. In the coming months, Google is adding train route suggestions when using Google Flights. While we may not see people choosing a train option in droves, it does open up sustainable alternatives.

Emissions From Flights

Let’s face it, flying is oftentimes the most logical form of travel. For example, driving or taking a train isn’t the most practical form of transportation if, let’s say, you are taking a trip from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles. Sometimes, it is the only option. However, the environmental impact varies with each trip. With Google Flights, users can see estimated flight emissions for practically every flight in the search results. Users can even filter the search to prioritize lower-emission options.

In a statement from Google, the company said, “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.”