WWDC 2016: Public Transit in Apple Maps

Ellis Verosub, Senior Manager of Maps Transit at Apple gives us this video presentation that outlines the customer experience in Apple’s public transportation information & directions (see previous post, Welcome, Apple).

Ellis describes the many thoughtful touches to transit info & maps in Apple Maps, such as cartography that highlights major transit lines Here is one especially nice touch: in some places with BRT or rapid & frequent trunkline bus services, Apple Maps gives these services similar prominence as rail, which Google Maps does not do in the transit layer.

Ellis describes how after sourcing schedule data, Apple adds additional information to help customers confidently and easily navigate the transit network. For example, Apple Maps uses the appropriate local terms to describe vehicle travel directions — uptown or downtown in NYC, and inbound or outbound for SF Muni, for example. There was a proposal to add direction_name to GTFS to support such display more broadly but the proposal has not come to fruition yet. Among other subtle additions, Apple includes station entrances and exits, shows care with the proper names of transit routes (board “the N Line,” “the N train”, or “N Judah”), and matches the presentation of transit signage and icons.

columbus circle station sign

A consistent display on the phone builds rider confidence.
A consistent display on the phone builds rider confidence.


These are all enhancements to the customer experience in transit information that can be more broadly facilitated through GTFS changes and a better specification governance and management process (see post GTFS Today and Tomorrow).

This video was released as part of Apple’s developer conference, WWDC, held in San Francisco last week.

Aaron is the founding principal of Trillium Solutions, Inc. He brings experience that includes 12 years of web-development with 8 years in public transportation, with knowledge of fixed-route transportation, paratransit, rural transportation, and active transportation modes. Aaron is a recognized expert in developing data standards, web-application design, digital communications, and online marketing strategy. He originally developed Trillium’s GTFS Manager, and has played a key role in the development of the GTFS data specification since 2007.