Taking Maps in a New Direction
I consider myself to be a Google Maps power user. To some, that means I do not know how to find my neighborhood food lion without using my phone. Unfortunately, I also define it that way, but we don’t have to harp on that point. Most of the time, Google Maps and I get along. The design is sleek, it gets me where I need to go, and it has that little speed limit sign in the bottom left corner. The only big problem I have with Google Maps is how it handles Toll Roads.
Last year, I was traveling down to Williamsburg, and I decided to use the toll road. Had I been driving during peak rush hour, this choice would have saved me quite a bit of time. Unfortunately, it was a Tuesday at 10:45 AM, so the toll road did nothing for me but empty my bank account. I wish Google Maps had told me that despite my $12.33 payment, my trip would still take about three hours.
Time, money, and what really matters
If my reliance on Grammarly has not given me away, I am a college student. When I drive, I almost always have Google Maps filter out toll roads (yes, you can do that). This is fine for normal commutes, but when going into the city, I like to compare my options. Unfortunately, in its current state, Google only provides me with the following information: which routes have tolls and which ones do not. When Google feels generous, I may be told that a route has “partial tolls,” but prior to researching this sentence, I was not aware of what partial tolls were. The current solution is okay, but I want more information when I embark on a drive.
What I want, if Google cares to listen, is a cost-benefit analysis. In other words, I want Google to tell me how much I am paying to shorten my time on the road. If a toll road cuts my commute down by 45 minutes and only costs $2, I may be willing to eat the cost. If I would only save 3 minutes by driving through a $6 gate, you’ll find me in the slow-moving parking lot with everyone else.
As with most luxuries, toll roads, or at least the saved time they provide, tend to be addictive. So, assuming Google implements what I’ve suggested above, a budgeting tool would also be appreciated. Knowing that I spent $42 to save 2 hours last week would be great. Being told to save $9 and spend an extra 15 minutes on the road would be even better.
Regardless of my behavior, being presented with information on the cost of my drive would be much appreciated. I envision it looking like this:
I envision users being able to choose between prioritizing time or prioritizing money. My thinking is that spending $6 on a toll to save 4 minutes is probably not a great use of money. While I cannot tell users when they should choose to take the toll road, at least they’ll have more information about what they are paying for.
A Brief Conclusion
Though I’d love all mapping companies to implement this, Apple just got street-view 2 days ago. I’m not saying Google will gain a lot of customers by building this, but it would definitely keep me on their platform.