Sep 24, 2021 • Blog

Google Distance Matrix API vs. the TravelTime API: Which is Best for You?

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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.

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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

Use cases

  • Consumer-facing websites and apps: You can use the TravelTime API to filter, rank and list location search results by travel timeon 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.

Use cases

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

Google Distance Matrix API TravelTime API
Travel time matrices
  • Per search can calculate times for up to 25 origins or 25 destinations
  • Matrix limits vary depending on which endpoint you select
  • Time Filter max matrix:
    10 x 2,000
  • Time Filter Fast max matrix:
    10 x 100,000
  • Time Filter Fast (Protobuf):
    1 x 200,000
Isochrones(visualising travel times on a map)
  • No dedicated function to create isochrones
  • Yes – can create isochrones and catchment areas for any mode of transport
  • Priced separately with the Google Directions API
  • Included in the TravelTime unlimited plan
  • Priced separately via the Geocoding API
  • Geocoding included free
Map tiles
  • Available through a separate API
  • Map tiles included free
Available transport modes
  • Public transport (choose any specific transport modes, or select all modes)
  • Driving 
  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Public transport (choose any specific transport modes, or select all modes)
  • Cycling
  • Driving
  • Driving + Train (in Great Britain only)
  • Walking
  • Driving + Ferry
  • Cycling + Ferry
  • Cycling + Public transport (In the Netherlands only)
Drive time data 
  • Through its Advanced plan, traffic conditions can be taken into account if the departure time is set at the current time of day or a time in the future
  • Does not take live drive times into account, but uses drive time averages for that specific departure time
Customer support
  • Documentation
  • Stack Overflow Community
  • Maps support team – but only for Project Owners, Project Editors, and Tech Support Editors
  • Documentation, knowledgebase and tutorials
  • Standard tier includes a support portal, email support, onboarding workshop and Customer Success Manager
  • Premium tier includes the above, plus 12-hour guaranteed first response time, 99.9% service uptime SLA
Data privacy
  • Stores user data
  • Does not store user data

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 over 100 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.

Key differences

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.

Isochrone API

Isochrones are maps that allow you to visualise all reachable locations within a time limitand by mode of transport.

An example 1-hour public transport isochrone map, created with the TravelTime API


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.

Example routes created with the TravelTime API


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.

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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.

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

See how Side uses TravelTime

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 

Learn how SEGRO uses TravelTime

Better user experience

“TravelTime has enriched our user experience and increased conversions by 10%."

- Christophe De Rassenfosse, Chief Product Officer, Totaljobs

See how Totaljobs uses TravelTime

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

Learn how Foxton uses TravelTime

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 APIfor 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.

To learn more about what you can do with the TravelTime API,  check out our documentation  or to try TravelTime for yourself,  sign up for a free API key .

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