Simplify your commute with new Alexa public transit feature
Public transit can efficiently connect people and places, often saving riders time and money while reducing traffic congestion. To help make taking public transit more simple, Amazon Alexa launched a transit capability where customers can conveniently ask Alexa for directions with transit or status updates for transit lines from over 450 public transportation agencies. Now rolled out across the US, the feature makes it simpler than ever for customers to use Alexa to optimize their daily commute or to explore a new neighborhood by bus or train.
Alexa can help customers get to and from neighborhoods of interest and specific addresses via public transit. They can get customized navigation, current commute times, and status updates, along with help planning routes on the go as needed through the Alexa app. For example, a public transit user in Seattle can ask, “Alexa, what’s the status of the 1 Line from the Westlake Station?” and get a status update on the departure time without needing to go on the computer or check their phone. To learn more about routes for exploration, the customer can ask, “Alexa, how do I get to the Space Needle by public transit?” and receive a summary of the route and even directions on an Echo Show.
Get started with the Alexa for public transit feature
To get started with Alexa for public transit, customers can open their Alexa app, navigate to More, then Settings, and then Commute to set the default commute type to Public Transit. They can add preferred home and work locations in Settings as well, making it simple to get information about a regular commute by asking: “Alexa, when’s the next train to work?”; “Alexa, how do I get home?”; or, “Alexa, how’s my commute?”
Figure 1. Screenshots of the Alexa app, navigating from the Settings screen to the Commute screen, then adding regular locations for home and place of work, and choosing their Preferred Commute Type to Public Transit.
Even if customers choose not to set their commute default to public transit, it’s still simple to ask, “Alexa, how do I get to work by public transit?” Customers can hear alternate routes and figure out a plan for leveraging available bus and train routes without altering their Alexa settings.
On Echo Show devices, customers initially get a concise summary of their route, including total time to destination and specific transit line names. On the next screen, customers can review turn-by-turn directions to find each transit line’s departure time along a particular route.
Figure 2. Example of an Echo Show screen depicting public transit route and departure timing for navigation to the Empire State Building.
Alexa also provides status updates in response to inquiries, such as “Alexa, what’s the status of the 21 bus?” or “Alexa, are there any delays on the Q train from Penn Station?” Alexa also helps customers with departure times and identifies the most efficient routes to get customers where they need to be.
The Alexa transit status and delays feature is built using Amazon OpenSearch Service, which allows Alexa to scale. This feature will become available in international countries like the UK and Germany later in 2022. Customers can search for train and bus data for countries across the globe through the entity resolution built in Amazon OpenSearch Service to assist Alexa’s speech recognition and language understanding functionalities. Alexa provides time-critical information to customers, based on the train or bus line of interest, which is possible thanks to automated ingestion of updated data and working with a leading data provider on status updates and routing details.
Figure 3. Example screenshots showing public transit route from Eastern Parkway-Brooklyn Museum Station to Wakefield-241 St Station.
Local governments and transit agencies in the US are excited to expand this feature to even more agencies across the country. Download the Alexa app to try this feature today on any Alexa device. Receive directions and status updates for your commute—or your next adventure—on public transit to save time and make your experience on the local bus or train as smooth as possible.
Learn more about what Alexa can do on the Alexa Information hub.
Read more stories about Amazon Web Services (AWS) for transportation:
- Transportation resiliency in the cloud: Building systems that survive adversity
- Modernizing mission critical transportation technologies in the cloud
- Improving your commute, a cloud at a time: Transportation in the age of technology
- Stockholm Public Transport transforms its ticketing system with the AWS Cloud
- How Cloud Services Can Help Optimize Public Transportation Systems in Cities
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