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Google maps offline...does not work for public transit

I don't leave for my trip until September, but I want to be familiar with using Google Maps. In particular I wanted to see how it works to use it offline. There are lots of videos on YouTube that explain how to use it. Well I will be using public transportation in Europe, so I decided to test it out using my towns public transportation.

And it was pretty disappointing! Google Maps has to have data in order to be used for public transportation! That's right, you can't use the offline feature for public transportation. It does work if you are on foot or in a car. This makes me re-think my phone situation. I really will have to have a data plan to get around. I suppose that I can load up the route while I have wi-fi and then use it strictly as a map with no alerts to get on or off buses.

Has anyone else used Google Maps on public transit?

Posted by
5192 posts

When my daughter came home from Honolulu last Christmas, the bus system computers were down. I think it was due to a significant rain storm. The buses were still running, we just couldn't get information on schedules online. It wouldn't have been an issue except to get to the airport, she had to change buses in downtown Honolulu and wasn't sure where to get off the first bus and on to the second. It was after the work day so we couldn't call the bus company. Google maps even online wasn't helpful for transit information because it gets its data from the Honolulu bus system, probably in real time. So it doesn't surprise me that you cannot get transit information offline on Google maps. (You also can't get transit information from

I periodically use Rome2Rio, but do not trust it completely for schedule information. When I need to use it, I generally use another source for more specific information or to double check. Well, Rome2Rio saved us. It had the Honolulu transit schedules so I could guide my daughter via texts on where to get off, how far to walk and where to get back on.

In your situation, if I couldn't get data from cell phone carrier, I'd look for a coffee shop, fast food, museum or any number of places that likely would have wifi.

Posted by
7559 posts

I used city mapper app for the first time this spring and I fell in love with it. Real time transit info.

Posted by
3898 posts

Citymapper can be used off-line. it’s important to map out directions to where you want to go in advance while you have wifi and then save them. In saving them, you will have access to those directions off-line and I depend on that when I travel overseas. I never buy data. Citymapper is great in that it can often tell you where to sit on the city subway to make transferring that much easier.

Posted by
18864 posts

I've found Google Maps seems to work for me most of the time, but since my European travel is usually in Germany, the Bahn website works better for public transport.

One of the major problems I've found with using Google Maps, particularly with buses, is getting it to show all of the bus stops. Sometimes I have to zoom in real close to get them all to show up, sometimes even that doesn't work. But if I know the name of the bus stop from the Bahn website, Google Maps helps me find its location, particularly since the Bahn's map function is not currently working.

Posted by
8 posts

I decided that having a data plan while in Europe was worth the cost to be able to have the public transit info as well as making calls when needed. My hubby has a serious lung disease and knowing when the next tram will come is important. In the overall cost of things, it really isn't that much more to have a good data plan and access to public transit connections. Look at the cost of your trip and the cost of a good data plan for the same period and then decide if offline is good enough.

Posted by
786 posts

I’m reaching the same conclusion for our Spain trip in October. A Verizon monthly international plan would add $200 for two lines to the cost of trip already costing thousands of dollars. Sometimes convenience and functionality are worth more than saving a buck.

Posted by
5649 posts

Yes, having mobile data on your smart phone makes it much more useful for things like Google Maps, real-time transit info, etc. (even Citymapper can't tell you whether a train or bus is on time unless you have a mobile data connection).

Depending on your mobile provider, having mobile data may cost very little. Many people already pay a premium for Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile service, and if you have one of those, adding international roaming for an international trip doesn't add much more to your annual cell phone bill. I choose to use a cheap mobile phone service that doesn't offer international roaming and just use a European SIM card when I'm over there, but some people find that too intimidating to do.

Posted by
5306 posts

Using google maps for information on public transportation is a bad idea. You should use the information from the company that actually runs the buses/trams/trains.

Posted by
124 posts

Google maps works great for navigation, but you will need data for any real-time information. Go ahead and get a data plan. It will be useful for so many things. Last minute museum tickets to avoid the line, translating signs and menus, researching opening times, and finding alternates since your first pick is closed for renovation/strike/moday. The data cost is just a tiny portion of your overall trip expenses. I used to travel with just Wi-fi 10 years ago, but I wouldn't be without my phone plan these days. If you travel often switch to a phone company that has good plans for out-of-the-country service. I use google fi, it cost the same for data abroad as it does at home.

Posted by
127 posts

CityMapper sounds like a great app. and I do think that I will get an esim so that I have data.