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Google search queries show that climate change and sustainability are becoming increasingly important to the Swiss population. Image: Google

The new Google functions for environmentally friendly travelling

To meet the growing interest in sustainable travel, Google has developed additional functions on its Google Maps, Google Search and Google Flights platforms. The aim is to promote environmentally friendly travel.

Searches for sustainable travel have tripled on Google over the past three years. In view of Earth Day next Monday, 22 April 2024, Google has now published trend data showing that the Swiss population is more concerned than ever about climate change and the weather.

To meet this growing demand for information, Google has introduced additional avenues to promote more environmentally friendly transportion options. In future, more public transport and walking routes will be suggested on Google Maps if they are comparable in time to a car journey, and new functions for electric vehicles will soon be offered. Google Search and Google Flights will also show more sustainable travel options.

Public transport instead of car

In the upcoming weeks, Zurich will join a select group of 15 cities participating in a pilot programme on Google Maps. This feature is designed to assist users find alternative modes of transportation relying solely on cars. If a route on foot or by public transport is both practical and comparable in length, this will also be suggested when planning a car journey in future. The feature will also be used for selected connections in Google Flights to show comparable train routes.

In the near future, Google Maps users in Zurich will receive recommendations for more sustainable transportation options that are comparable in practicality and duration to car journeys. Furthermore, selected Google Flights connections will showcase comparable train routes, along with details on train connections and ticket prices. These features will be seamlessly integrated into Google Search, with direct links to the SBB ticket shop for easy access.

Further information and a deeper insight into Google's commitment to more sustainable travel can be found in the blog post «New ways we're helping reduce transportation and energy emissions» by Google's Chief Sustainability Officer Kate Brandt.

Reach charging stations in good time

When travelling by electric car, access to charging stations is an important criterion. However, it can be challenging to locate nearby and available stations, especially in unfamiliar areas. To address this, Google Maps will soon automatically display relevant charging stations along the journey route, including availability, charging speed and location descriptions. Read more in the blog post «New ways to power up your electric vehicle adventures with Google Maps».

Fewer flight emissions

If the aeroplane is still the most practical means of transport, Google Flights automatically calculates the emissions based on the Travel Impact Model (TIM), as emissions can vary greatly. Search options for flights with lower emissions are one way of reducing the ecological footprint of a flight. As of last July, the energy expended in producing and transporting kerosene has been factored into these calculations, providing travelers with a more comprehensive understanding of the environmental footprint associated with their flights.