Google adds wheelchair accessibility info to transit maps

Google Maps makes it easier for people using a wheelchair to navigate on public transportation.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

It's not easy to use public transportation if you're in a wheelchair, on crutches or even pushing a baby stroller.

While many cities around the world are required to have some accessible subways and trains, it's often challenging to know exactly where the right stations are. That's where Google says it can help.


Google has added a feature in its Maps app that helps people plan a wheelchair accessible route. 


The search giant announced Thursday that it's added wheelchair accessible navigation to its Google Maps app so you can find a route that accommodates wheelchairs.  All you have to do to find such a route is type a destination into Google Maps.

First, tap "Directions." Then select the public transportation icon. Tap "Options" and under the "Routes" section, and you'll find "wheelchair accessible" as a new route type. Selecting this option will show you a list of the routes that are wheelchair accessible, explains the blog post announcing the new feature.

The new feature will be available starting Thursday in six major metro areas: London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston and Sydney. Google said it will add other cities in the coming months.

Google worked with local transit authorities to map the wheelchair-accessible routes in these cities. It's also enlisted the help of million of people all over the globe to help collect information. Registered "local guides" in the Google Maps app can add accessibility information to Google Maps.

In September, Google hosted some 200 meetups around the world where these local guides gathered and answered accessibility questions -- like whether a place has a step-free entrance or an accessible restroom. More than 12 million places were mapped as part of this effort, Google said.

The company says it's also been busy capturing and updating Street View images of transit stations and city centers so people can preview a place ahead of time.

Google's efforts come as more attention has been given to accessibility in public spaces. Dozens of apps have popped up over the past couple of years to map accessibility not just for subways and other public transportation, but also for restaurants, churches, hotels and other places people frequent.

Tech Enabled: CNET chronicles tech's role in providing new kinds of accessibility.

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