How to use Google Maps and the Los Angeles Metro

Apr 19, 2010 by Lisa Newton

Do you use Google maps to get from where you are to where you’re going? Whenever I’m going to a new location for a Travelin’ Local article, I always use Google Maps, and I’ll tell you why.

If you’re taking the bus or train, using Google Maps when taking the Metro works and is handy for everyone.

Although GPS units are ubiquitous and popular, many people still don’t own one (including myself). So not having these devices will probably require the use of Google Maps to understand how it works both in relation to where you’re going, and how to return.

Here’s a picture by picture how-to guide on how to use Google Maps with the Metro:

1. After you arrive at the Google Maps homepage, you’re presented with this box in the upper left hand corner. In the “A” box. Then you enter your starting point, and in the “B” box you enter your destination. Google’s dropdown menu always defaults to “By car,” so be sure to change that to “By public transit.” You’ll also notice that when you hit “By public transit,” the “Add Destination” category pops up. Currently, Google isn’t offering multiple destinations via public transit for this feature. Hopefully this will change as time goes by.

2. For my sample, I entered my starting location downtown at 200 S. Spring St., and my ending location at 478 W. 6th St. in San Pedro. That happens to be the address of the Warner Grand, which is the location of the second edition of the LA Eco Arts Tour being held on Thursday, April 22nd, which is Earth Day.

As you can see, Google is giving me three options with varied times, all of which have a little bit of walking involved; but the third option alternative has two different buses and takes longer. By Google’s estimate, the entire trip via Metro should take a little over an hour.

Also above, you’ll see a side by side comparison of the driving route and the Metro route– which in this case are almost identical.

According to Google, the estimated driving time is 28 minutes; but to quote Google, “up to 50 minutes in traffic!”

In order to see a close up of the various parts of your journey, such as the “Walk” or “Bus” categories, click on the relevant link and that part of the journey will be highlighted on the map.

To see exactly where you’ll need to walk or catch your bus, use the zoom in on the map to get a clearer idea and picture as shown below:

3. Because timing and place is crucial when using public transportation, which can often mean the difference between getting to your destination 15 minutes early or an hour late. So you’ll want to make sure you add that important information– in this example, I used the time of day to illustrate my point in writing this article. Since Metro’s database includes different buses and trains that run at different times of the day, chances are you’ll be presented with totally different routes– depending on your own individual arrival and departure times.

A small but absolutely important consideration when using Google Maps and the Metro may seem simplistic but do not underestimate its importance:

Make sure you’re on the correct side of the street. Buses travel in two directions, so be careful not to get on the wrong side or else you’ll be somewhere else other than where you’re supposed to be or want to be.

An important rule of thumb is always look at the banner on the top of the bus to ensure the accurate end of that bus’ line destination.

4. Whenever you want or need to add another destination into this process, you’ll need to open another window and pull up Google Maps again. Then, just repeat the whole process; Steps 1-2.

5. Lastly, if you do get lost during your actual trip, you have several options:

  • Ask the bus driver for assistance
  • Ask a fellow passenger for directions
  • If you have a cell phone with the Internet access, you can always pull up Google Maps again
  • Consult the various maps available on most Metro buses

That’s it!

In summary, it’s pretty easy to learn how to use Google Maps and the Metro, and all it takes is a little practice.

Lastly, don’t forget, not all of the local public transportation services are currently available on Google Maps, but hopefully they will be soon. In the meantime use Google Maps, the Metro, and if you need to, explore other local, city and state transit systems for the information that you may need.

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