Google Maps' service takes the plunge
Malik Yusuf and Alex Lo
Google Maps has rolled out a new service providing transport information to enable people to take the most convenient route - but that could involve swimming across the harbour.
The electronic map will supplement existing services such as Centamap and ypmap.com.
Google Transit provides local users with the ability to plan journeys using the MTR, buses, trams and ferries, in addition to the previously available driving and walking directions available on Google Maps.
However, some requests may yield interesting, if not entirely practical, results. One search said, for example, that the shortest way from Tong Chong Street in Quarry Bay to Whampoa in Kowloon was to take the MTR to North Point and walk from there - across the harbour.
The journey would take 30 minutes. The travel time may be accurate, but the route is unusual.
The new service is also available on mobile phones via Google Maps. It does not cover every transport system in Hong Kong, however, as minibus routes are currently unavailable.
But Google may upgrade the service. 'Making our transit information more universally accessible is certainly a goal, so that riders can have a comprehensive tool that can be useful for any trip they are planning,' a spokesman said.
The service resembles existing applications such Centamap, managed by the Lands Department, and ypmap.com, owned by PCCW, by combining information from the city's main public transport services.