Ask LH: Will Google Maps Ever Add Melbourne Public Transport Information?

Ask LH: Will Google Maps Ever Add Melbourne Public Transport Information?

Dear Lifehacker, I travelled to Melbourne over the weekend, and fell in love with the city. I’m considering looking for work over there, but there’s one thing that irks me. The public transport system doesn’t have Google Maps integration. It’s incredibly frustrating, and while I know you did a story on it eight months ago, I’m wondering what the progress has been made on not having to use the horrible MetLink Journey Planner to work my way around the city. Any news? Thanks, Yarra Aspirant

Dear YA,

The lack of public transport data integration into Google Maps is one of our most frequent complaints. While Perth, Adelaide and Canberra residents can look up directions on Maps and get accurate timetable data to plan a journey on public transport, that isn’t the case with Melbourne (or Sydney or Brisbane).

Unfortunately, in this case there seems to have been no substantial progress since last August, when we reported that the Public Transport Users Association had heard rumblings that the Victorian Department of Transport was finally going to make its timetable data available to Google for integration. Despite that promising beginning, nothing seems to have happened since. I checked in with the PTUA and they’re not aware of any progress. I’ve asked the department for comment, and I’ll update this post if I do hear something, but quite honestly I’m not holding my breath. Basic tram stop information does appear on Google Maps, but no timetable data has yet showed up.

Unfortunately, there’s plenty of form for government departments to make promising noises about this and then do nothing. Back in 2010, TransLink in Queensland said that it would have maps integration for Brisbane public transport by the end of the year, but it’s 2012 and that still hasn’t happened. The blame for these delays lies squarely with state or metropolitan transit authorities, and frankly it seems ludicrous that they make it so hard for data to be shared with Google (or anyone else wanting to build a service offering public transport information). But after several years of uselessness across the East Coast, I’m not optimistic. I wouldn’t let that stop you moving to Melbourne; at least you can get accurate tram arrival information via the TramTracker site. But everything else is still in the “wait and see” basket.


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    • The questioner (who is not necessarily a real person, IMO) does say that they are aware of this but don’t want to use the “horrible MetLink Journey Planner”

      I’m like you though, I find the metlink tool very helpful. It’s not perfect, but nothing is….

    • Yes, that’s really helpful for tourists too.

      It’s trivially easy for the Melbourne transport people to add their timetables to Google, really trivial. All they have to do is host a single file that’s kept up-to-date. (just the schedule changes)

      For a city that’s trying to encourage tourism not putting public transport into Google as a priority is the height of stupidity. – Almost every tourist already has Google Maps available in one form or another, so it should be the minimum basic requirement for any public transport authority in any city.

      Sure you can have additional apps, ones with better features than Google and I can’t encourage that enough, but not having it in Google Maps is plain stupid…

      Google Maps should be a higher priority than a Facebook page. (Google Maps is far more useful and takes far less resources to maintain than a Facebook Page.)

  • rome2Rio (website) does a good job of showing you how to get between too places by all forms of public transport in melbourne…but sadlt, no timetable information. Still useful though…

    • Metlink and tramtracker are woefully inadequate. Something as simple as figuring out when the next tram is coming to the stop near the pub your at is a convoluted and painful process. You need to find out the stop number of the stop that’s near by, also the tram number you want to catch, then look that number up in the tram tracker website (because they don’t believe in app for other phone that are made by companies other than Apple). Metlink, can’t even get addresses right! It shouldn’t be that hard, we know it can be done better. It already is being done better. It should be as simple as opening up Google Maps (or Bing Maps, or any other app you choose), saying get me from where I am no, to this address. Then it can work all that out for you, is the tram stop close by actually less efficient to take than the train 2 blocks away? It should work that out for you, you shouldn’t be left to guess it.

  • I dont like google.. i dont want my tax payments to fund advertising for google. If google wants they could develop it they have plenty of money .. id rather save my tax dollars for useful things that generate money for australian companies. BTW Translinks journey planners pretty sweet.. but hey no kodus to that right? As a user I dont want google spying on me so i dont use their services and i dont want my money to pay to develop a service for them.

    • The cities do not pay Google to add the information they just supply it for the benefit of the residents. Google actually spends millions acquiring all the information used in maps. I don’t think you need to worry about tax dollars going to Google, they make enough from advertising.

      • Translink’s journey planner is average. It never gives you the quickest journey, always routes you onto odd buses for multi-trips and it DOESN’T”T DISPLAY STOP INFO ON A MAP.
        (This bothers me because I can find an Officeworks on a Google map, I can search for any number of businesses and government services and find them using Google Maps but not my bus route or stop. The one thing that really deserves a map!)

    • This isn’t about Google, this is about providing timetable information in a standardised format that any developer is free to use. Google just happens to be one of the developers that would use it.

  • Sydneysiders will be happy to know that google maps integration is currently being tested for all of Sydney’s transit systems. Maybe.. move to Sydney instead?

  • What a shame – just went to try the beta version of Metlink site and it’s asking for a username and password – I did have a look at the cache version and the homepage looks good but again, if you try to do a search, you need a username and password – anyone know if that will be removed in future or if there’s a generic u/n & p/w that can be used?

  • If you are planning on moving to melbourne do what everyone else does. Live close to the city, work in the city and cycle. Everything else is just wasting your time.

    Secondly. Do not live south of the yarra river. Everything costs more and they are all douche’s over there.

  • Oh that sucks! I live in Adelaide and it’s pretty easy to use Google Maps. You just tell it where you are and where you want to go and a route is plotted for you on the spot. When I visited Melbourne I was shocked that this hasn’t been implemented. Being a much bigger and important city than Adelaide I’m very disappointed. Perhaps if people made more noise the lousy government would listen. I think it would make a big difference to have this implemented. If a tourist comes to Adelaide he or she can go around with Google Maps with NO problems but in Melbourne it would’t be possible. I hope it gets fixed soon but it’s unlikely

  • I was in Cairns last week and was using the public transport features of Google Now. I was able to comfortably travel around a city I know little about. After searching for a business or service on Google (on my laptop) my phone started alerting me on travel times and displayed the route and bus line numbers. If this existed in Melbourne I believe that I wouldn’t need to rely on my car as much. It would result in an increase in public transport use and therefore a more cost efficient system.

  • This is just ridiculous. i think we should all start pinging the Victorian department of public transport about this. Here’s their contact us page:

    Here’s some suggested wording – feel free to edit to make it unique. Lifehacker: Maybe you could help start a campaign that your readers can get involved in? 🙂


    With the amount of tourists coming into our beautiful city of Melbourne, most of these will be looking to google maps to help them with transit directions. The reason? It’s the standard across the world.

    Please work with Google Maps to give them access to our Public Transport data as soon as possible. Whilst it’s great there are apps like tram tracker and your website out there, we should adopt to what the general population want to use – Google Maps. We’re so far behind the other Australian states on this issue it’s embarrassing.

    Thank you for your time.

  • Gosh! I still can’t believe Melbourne hasn’t got its data on Google Maps.

    When I was in New York City last year using an Android, it was absolutely brilliant being able to search journeys in an instant for subways. If you missed a train you could just do a re-search and it would give you options for the next best route. Perhaps the most usable feature is the ability to see your journey tracked out on a map.

    Perth has it, Adelaide has it and Sydney has it. It can be done! We boast one of the best systems in the country with our comparatively frequent amount of trams, trains and buses. The cherry on top will be Google Maps integration – especially now the app has been released on iOS!

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