Every time I go to Google maps to look up an address I always need to click on "transit" since it's the only way I get around and (more importantly) the only way I can find my way in my adopted city. The colored lines are very thin and hide nothing, so the "transit" option only has an upside for me.

So, how to make the "transit" option default to "enabled"?

3 Answers 3


The directions method in Benj's answer didn't work for me anymore. The following query string parameters seemed to do it for me:


You can find parameters in use for the current view by clicking on the Link button on the left side.

To answer the question regarding changing the default settings in the web app, I can't seem to find a way to change the default layers.


You can bookmark a results page in Transit mode. Here's an example linke (I got it by searching for directions and then copying the link URL)


If you're using Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc., you can set this as a search shortcut if you're using going to (or from) a usual location. This would let you type transit destination-address in your address bar to open up directions to your destination.

Here are instructions for Chrome (you can adapt them for Safari or Firefox):

  1. Right-click in Chrome's address bar and choose Edit Search Engines...
  2. Under Other search Engines, add a new option with the following -- you may have to scroll to the very bottom of the list)

    • Add a new search engine: Transit Directions
    • Keyword: transit
    • URL with %s in place of query: http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=HERE&daddr=%s&dirflg=r&mra=ltm&t=m&z=8 (replace HERE with your starting address, replacing spaces with + e.g. "100+Main+Street,+Sometown+TX+10000"
  3. Chrome will auto-save your new search engine, and you'll be good to go.


For directions, the key parameter determining which directions mode is selected is dirflg. (As of May 2013.)

  • Transit: dirflg=r
  • Cycling: dirflg=b
  • Walking: dirflg=w
  • Driving: [none] (or c for default, h to avoid highways, t to avoid tolls)

You can append any of these to a Chrome search engine string, so a Google Maps search that defaults to transit directions would look like this:


If you want to also show the transit lines overlay, add in lci=transit_comp:


You can control whether satellite or map tiles are shown using t=h for satellite or t=m for map. This setting appears to be sticky from one Maps session to the next, though, so it's less necessary to include in the search query.

These queries work with both individual addresses and directions (e.g. "Times Square to McCarren Park"). They don't include a default starting address as Benj suggested; I do like that idea but I prefer this greater flexibility.

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