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Creating a Travel Time Map with KML

by Niharika Sisodia on Oct 19, 2018

Travel time map basics

TravelTimeMaps allows you to create maps that show all the areas you could reach within a certain time limit. For example, here is a shape showing all the places you can get to within 45 minutes, assuming you depart Edinburgh Castle, Scotland at 5pm. This shape is called an isochrone.


This search assumes the user departs the castle at 5, walks to a public transport stop, boards, travels and reaches the other side.

Travel time maps for business

The example below maps where three people in Toronto should organise a business lunch. The different colours represent the different points of origin for each person. Each isochrone shape maps where they can get to within 30 minutes. This example assumes they are all travelling by public transport. The maximum volume of maps is 3 using this tool


What if I need more isochrone shapes?

If you are looking to do a more complex analysis, you might need to create a map with more than three isochrone shapes. For example, you might be analysing locations for a new office with 10 members of staff to consider. In this instance, you would need to analyse staff travel times for the locations under consideration. For example, the map below shows staff postcodes plotted on a map. The coloured isochrone shapes show where they can reach within a certain travel time.


Area colour % Of employees Area colour % Of employees
Yellow 100% of employees can reach in 45 minutes
Pink 80% of employees can reach in 45 minutes
Blue 60% of employees can reach in 45 minutes
Green 40% of employees can reach in 45 minutes
Grey 20% of employees can reach in 45 minutes

100% of staff can reach the yellow area within 45 minutes driving. This suggests that the yellow area would be a good location in which to search for a new office. To make this kind of map, you can't use the TravelTime Maps tool, however we can export as many travel time shapes as you need using KMLs. 

What is a KML map?

A KML map is a type of file that contains geographic information. KMLs can be imported onto mapping programs like Google Earth.


Google Earth is a free program that allows you to see the world in 3D. A KML map can include different types of information, such as:

  • Way points / Markers - for example,  office locations
  • Polylines - routes of a journey displayed as a line
  • Polygons - such as an isochrone shape

KMLs are very useful for visualising geographic data on a map.

How do I create a KML isochrone map?

To create a KML map, drop us a message with:

  • Your travel time preferences, such as time of day and maximum travel time
  • The number of isochrone shapes you need to make
  • Origin / destination locations
  • Modes of transport, such as driving, public transport, walking or cycling

We would then provide you with a KML file. To discuss your bespoke project and to start creating KML maps, get in touch.

To view the KML file on a map you would need to import it into a mapping platform, such as Google Earth, Google My Maps, or QGIS. Viewing these files is really easy, and requires no training. Let’s take a look, using Google My Maps as an example for the walkthrough.

The home screen will display a map of the world.


With a box in the top left-hand corner.


Click the import button


You will then see this screen.


Drag and drop, or upload your KML file and the map will appear.


The map shows six isochrone shapes. The isochrone shapes show the percentage of the people that can reach each area when travelling by public transport.

Google My Maps editing features

From here, you can:

Name the map

Click on the map title


Edit title map and description


View the new title on the map


Change isochrone colour

Click on the layer you would like to change


Select a new colour


Change border width of isochrone

Select the layer you would like to change


Slide the border width scale up or down


Change the transparency of the isochrone shape.

Select the layer you would like to change by clicking on the isochrone shape.

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 12.38.31 (1)

Slide the transparency scale up or down


You can also layer the map with further KML files containing more information, such as amenities or population demographics.

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 12.39.28

Google Earth for KMLs

You can also use Google Earth to view KML files.

When you open Google Earth you will see a globe map of the world.


  To begin you simply drag and drop your KML file onto the globe and your map will appear.


On the left-hand side, you will see the Layers toolbar.


You can check each of the boxes to add layers to the map.

Add borders


Add roads


 Add 3D Buildings



To discuss your bespoke project and to create your own KML maps, get in touch. To learn more about the Travel Time Search API and isochrone maps, visit our Time Map Resource page.

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