This post compares the product features of the Google Distance Matrix API and the TravelTime API. If you’re just looking to compare pricing and API limits, read this post instead. It compares prices with Google, Mapbox, Here, Graphhopper and more.
In this post, we’ll compare the differences between Google’s Distance Matrix API and the TravelTime API, including their matrix functionality, map services and support.
What is the Travel Time Matrix API?
The Travel Time Matrix API allows you to calculate travel times to thousands of locations simultaneously, within milliseconds and for any mode of transport.
TravelTime also has two other APIs:
- Isochrone API: Create isochrone maps to visualise where you can reach within a time limit
- Routes API: Generate A to B routes, including turn-by-turn directions
- Consumer-facing websites and apps: You can use the TravelTime API to filter, rank and list location search results by travel time on your website or app. The API can filter thousands of locations in milliseconds and is used in a range of different use cases, including recruitment and property websites.
- Location analysis: You can also use TravelTime for location analysis, including office relocation or retail site selection. Here, the API can be used in a number of GIS software, including ArcGIS, QGIS and Alteryx.
What is the Google Distance Matrix API?
The Google Distance Matrix API allows you to calculate travel distance and time between multiple origins and destinations.
Common use cases for the Distance Matrix API include vehicle routing and analysis of traffic systems.
At a glance: the Google Distance Matrix API vs. TravelTime API
Comparing distance matrix features
In this section, we’ll compare the functionality of Google’s Distance Matrix API with that of the TravelTime API.
The TravelTime API allows you to calculate a matrix of travel times between thousands of origins and destinations. Additionally, you can set a maximum travel time cut-off to automatically filter locations as reachable or unreachable.
Finally, TravelTime currently supports 64 countries, with public transport data available for the vast majority of them. You can check out our list of supported countries here.
The Google Distance Matrix API lets you calculate the travel times for up to 25 origins or 25 destinations in one request.
1. Matrix speed & performance
With TravelTime’s performance and limits, you can calculate large volumes of times in under 100 milliseconds. This means it can be used within consumer-facing location searches without impacting app load times.
In contrast, it would be too slow to do this with Google’s Distance Matrix API if the consumer app has more than 25 locations.
2. Matrix multi-modal transport options
The TravelTime API calculates travel times for all transport modes. For public transport, you can choose one mode of public transport (which includes bus, train, subway, tram, coach and ferry) or you can also combine modes. This includes driving and train combined, driving and ferry combined, and cycling and ferry combined.
The Google Distance Matrix API calculates distances and times for public transport, driving, walking and cycling.
3. Fare data options
TravelTime provides fare data for public transport in the UK only. This includes data for standard, weekly, monthly and annual tickets.
Google provides fare data for public transport where available. This includes data for a standard ticket.
Comparing map services
Both Google and TravelTime also offer map services in addition to their matrix functionality. In this section, we’ll compare the map services of their APIs.
Isochrones are maps that allow you to visualise all reachable locations within a time limit and by mode of transport.
With the TravelTime API, you can create high-resolution isochrones for any type of public transport, as well as driving, cycling and walking. You can also combine transport modes – for example, to see where you can travel to within 30 minutes by driving and train.
The API comes with adjustable parameters, which means you can customise your desired maximum walk times, transport connection times and more. What’s more, you have the flexibility to create isochrones through the API or, alternatively, though one of our dedicated GIS plugins.
In contrast, the Google Distance Matrix API doesn’t support the creation of isochrones through its API, nor does Google itself provide a built-in way to generate isochrones.
You can use the TravelTime Routing API to create A-to-B routes, including turn-by-turn directions, and visualise these routes on a map or as a set of door-to-door instructions.
This can be done for all modes of transport, including all forms of public transport.
If you want to do routing via Google, you will need to use Google’s separate Directions API.
You can use the Directions API to receive directions between locations for different transport modes, including driving, walking, cycling and public transport. Note that this is priced separately.
Geocoding and map tiles
Free unlimited access to geocoding and map tiles is included with every paid TravelTime API plan.
For geocoding, coordinates can be used to display addresses on a map or as inputs for other TravelTime API endpoints.
You will need to use Google’s separate Geocoding API to return geocoding information, and its separate Maps API for map tiles.
How to create a distance matrix with the TravelTime API
To create a distance matrix, you first need to get a TravelTime API key.
Creating a distance matrix requires a single POST request, with a number of required parameters. These include:
- Transportation type (these include ‘driving’, ‘public_transport’ and ‘walking’)
- Departure or Arrival time
- Travel time
To calculate a matrix with multiple origins and multiple destinations, you can simply add multiple searches into the request. Each of these searches can then include up to 2,000 locations. Learn more about creating a distance matrix here.
Alternatively, try our Matrix Developer Playground for free here.
As standard, TravelTime’s support plans come with documentation, a comprehensive knowledge base and tutorials.
However, there are additional tiers that come with even more support. For example, the Standard tier includes a support portal, email support, onboarding workshop and a dedicated Customer Success Manager.
The Premium tier includes all the above, plus a 12-hour guaranteed first response time and 99.9% service uptime SLA.
Support for the Google Distance Matrix API is comprised of a Stack Overflow Community, where you can ask technical questions, and is monitored by members of the Google Maps Platform team.
Alternatively, you can create support cases directly to the Maps Support Team – although this is restricted to Project Owners, Project Editors and Tech Support Editors only. According to Google, response times can take up to 24 hours on weekdays.
What customers say about the TravelTime API
Comprehensive transport data
“TravelTime was the tool that stood out: it was the most reliable and the scope of its transport data was broader than any other service we considered.”
- Hugo Michalski, Co-Founder & CTO, Side
Layering travel time data with additional datasets
“It’s been great to analyse the data we get from TravelTime alongside other datasets like census or population data, to tell us how many people we can reach from certain locations.”
- Tim Hirst, Data Scientist, SEGRO
Better user experience
“TravelTime has enriched our user experience and increased conversions by 10%."
- Christophe De Rassenfosse, Chief Product Officer, Totaljobs
Reliable and fast
“The TravelTime API is easy to use, reliable and fast - it’s an asset to our search functionality.”
- Leo Lapworth, Web Operations Director, Foxtons
TravelTime vs. Google: Which solution is best for me?
Both the Google’s Distance Matrix API and the Travel Time Matrix API can calculate travel times and distances between locations with different transport modes.
However, the TravelTime API is more cost-effective than the Google Distance Matrix API for calculating large matrices of travel times at once.
And with a dedicated in-house data team, TravelTime offers a comprehensive and broad range of transport data, which includes all forms of public transport. This means that you can easily calculate travel times by the transport mode of your choice without breaking the bank.
TravelTime also comes with additional functionality that you may not have previously considered.
These include the ability to visualise travel times on a map (isochrones), as well as routing, geocoding and map tiles – all of which are included within all paid plans. And unlike Google, you won’t have to pay for separate APIs if you were looking to use these additional map services.