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Google Maps charts 1M public transit stops worldwide

Encompassing nearly 500 cities, Google Maps now has transport schedules to more than 1 million bus, train, subway, and tram stops. It also has a revamped Android app.

Google Maps new Android app. Left: Mobile map with all modes of public transit shown. Right: Transit Lines layer in Subway mode.

This is one of those moments when people might ask, "what did we do before smartphones?"

Google announced today that its Maps feature now has public transit schedules for more than 1 million bus, train, subway, and tram stops around the world -- encompassing nearly 500 cities.

"Public transportation information is especially useful when it's in the palm of your hand," Google Maps software engineer Christopher Van Der Westhuizen wrote in a blog post today.

In addition to reaching 1 million public transport schedules, Google also launched an update to its Google Maps for Android app. With this update, users can pick what type of transit they want to ride on, see a more specific layout of station pages, and save their places and location history.

Google Maps has been working on mapping out the world's transit structures for several years now. In 2008, it included public transport in New York City, in 2009 it included voice search with its transit planner, and last year it started providing live transit updates.

Bing has also been busy developing its Maps feature, which rolled out public transit directions in 2010. With mobile devices increasing in importance and capability, online maps are becoming useful for navigating while en route, not just in advance.