I often use transit directions to get around, but sometimes I'd rather run five minutes to catch up to a bus instead of waiting where I am for 15 minutes for the next bus.

Google Maps transit directions seem to assume a foot speed of about 10 minutes per km (16 minutes per mile).

Does anyone know how I would go about customizing this speed so that I can get to my destinations as fast as possible? I have some programming experience so I could use their APIs if necessary. I just don't know where to start.

The Austin Public Transit website allows you to specify slow, medium, or fast walking speed. I'd like to do something similar, but all over instead of just in Austin.

I've looked at the Google Directions API but it doesn't seem to have any sort of speed variable.

EDIT: Apparently Google uses variable speed, so a direct input of speed wouldn't be possible, but it would be nice if I could tell Google Maps transit directions to take their calculated walking time and cut it in half, for example.

Illustrative Example

It's 9:50am. I'm at the park when I realize that I need a cinnamon bun as soon as humanly possible. This craving is so strong that I am willing to run at a speed of 7 min/km to get to my tasty pastry. Is it quicker if I take advantage of public transit?

Option 1. On Foot Only

Google says "Walk 3.9 km, 48 min". It's easy to calculate that for me it's "Run 3.9 km, 27 min". In other words, I'll be enjoying sweet cinnamon goodness at 10:17.

Option 2. Transit Directions

If I follow the directions, I'll get off at a stop near the mall at 10:23. Again, assuming I'm really quick, it'll only take me 4 min from the stop to the mall, meaning I'll get to indulge at 10:27.

So I should run, right? Not necessarily. After some digging, it seems that I can get to the mall even earlier than 10:17.

Secret Option 3: Catch an Earlier Bus

According to the Transit schedule, Bus #43 comes every half hour. Google showed catching #43 at 10:27 as one of the options but it turns out I can probably make it in time for the 9:57 bus. With this bus, I'll get off at a stop near the mall at 10:12 and be there by 10:16.

Things get even more complicated when there's transfers involved.

Also, I'd like this to be automated because I get these sudden cravings often. No time for manual calculations and corrections!

  • Maybe if someone knows a way to do this, they may also know how to do the exact same thing for bicycle directions!
    – panhandel
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:59
  • This was a feature in the previous maps application. Dont know where they have put it in the recent version. You could set in the old slow/fast
    – user77636
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 8:50
  • @panhandel For bicycle directions, get directions for a route, ride that route, and see how much faster or slower you were than it estimated. Use that factor to estimate all future trips. For transit directions, it's much more complex because it's actually transit plus walking. Faster walking could mean a different route or an earlier bus on the same route.
    – sgryzko
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 16:37

2 Answers 2


it looks like Google uses actually variable speed so they left users without option to change it.

  • Interesting! The question still stands though. See my edit.
    – sgryzko
    Commented Dec 4, 2013 at 18:22
  • I'm not sure whether using SE as product feedback (see "it would be nice if I could") for Google is any kind of good idea.
    – silpol
    Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 9:19
  • I agree. And that's not what I'm doing. I'm just asking if anyone has been able to accomplish this. Maybe the speed can't be set but the time can be fudged.
    – sgryzko
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 5:00
  • I guess even though this isn't the answer I wanted, it seems to be the correct answer so I marked it as the best answer.
    – sgryzko
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 19:15
  • my pleasure to help :)
    – silpol
    Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 7:39

You can work around this by setting the “start time” of your journey back a few minutes, so that Google’s more conservative estimate of walking speed will still put you at a further bus stop at an earlier moment in time.

  • 1
    That might be a decent manual workaround but it's not automated and how many minutes head start should you give yourself? It would depend on how close you are to the stops. And it misses the correction for running from the bus stop to your destination. I've added an example to my question.
    – sgryzko
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 17:26

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