Both the Google Distance Matrix API and TravelTime API allow you to calculate travel times and distances between locations. But which API is the best for your needs?

In this post, we’ll compare the differences between Google’s Distance Matrix API and the TravelTime API, including their matrix functionality, map services, pricing and support.

Contents

    Overview

    What is the TravelTime API?

    The TravelTime API allows you to calculate travel times to thousands of locations simultaneously, within milliseconds and for any mode of transport.

    Through the API, you can:

    • Calculate a matrix of travel times between thousands of origins and destinations
    • Create isochrone maps to visualise where you can reach within a time limit
    • 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 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 Google’s 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
    • Per search can calculate travel times from one origin to 2,000 destinations (or vice versa)
    • Can calculate travel times to up to 100,000 destinations per search with the Enterprise plan 
    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
    Routing
    • Priced separately with the Google Directions API
    • Plan credits can be used to create A-to-B routes and turn-by-turn directions
    Geocoding
    • Priced separately via the Geocoding API
    • Geocoding included free
    Map tiles
    • Available through a separate API
    • Map tiles included free
    Pricing model
    • Pay-as-you-go pricing model varies based on usage
    • Usage is based on elements, which is the number of origin-destination pairs
    • Flexible pricing plans, including a free plan, pay-as-you-go plan and tiered paid plans 
    • Usage is based on credits. You can get 2,000 origin-destination pairs using only one credit. 
    Usage limits
    • Maximum of 25 origins or 25 destinations per search
    • Maximum 100 elements per server-side request / 100 elements per client side
    • Maximum of 2,000 origins or 2,000 destinations per search
    • Free plan with up to 20,000 elements per minute (2,000 locations per search, 10 searches per minute)
    • Paid plans start from up to 120,000 elements per minute (2,000 locations per search, 60 searches per minute) 
    • Enterprise plans with no limits
    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
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    Comparing distance matrix features

    In this section, we’ll compare the functionality of Google’s Distance Matrix API with that of the TravelTime API.

    TravelTime

    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.

    Creating matrices with the TravelTime API is done through a credit model: one Matrix credit lets you calculate travel times from one location to up to 2,000 destinations with a maximum travel time of one hour, for a single transport mode.

    The number of travel time matrices you can create increases alongside the number of credits you have. For example, two Matrix credits will include travel times from one location to up to 2,000 destinations with a maximum travel time of two hours, and so on.

    Ultimately, you can also get up to 100,000 travel times returned in one request through the Enterprise plan.

    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.

    Google

    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.

    Isochrones

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

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

    TravelTime

    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.

    Google

    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. 

    Routing

    TravelTime

    You can use the TravelTime 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

    Google

    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

    TravelTime

    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.

    Google

    You will need to use Google’s separate Geocoding API to return geocoding information, and its separate Maps API for map tiles.

    Comparing Google Distance Matrix API pricing & TravelTime API pricing

    TravelTime

    TravelTime offers a flexible credit-based pricing model. Each credit can calculate travel times from one origin to 2,000 destinations (or vice versa).

    TravelTime comes with a range of plans including:

    1. Free plan: Our free plan gives you 1,000 monthly credits, which will renew each month.
    2. Pay-as-you-go plan: If you’re not sure which plan is for you, or have occasional usage, our pay-as-you-go plan ensures that you pay based only on your usage – and gives you unlimited monthly credits.
    3. Tiered paid plans: Our paid pricing plans start from 300,000 monthly credits, and are billed annually.

    Can I create a distance matrix for free with the TravelTime API?

    Yes. The free plan of the TravelTime API means you can create distance matrices for free. Simply sign up for a free API key to get started.

    Google

    Google Distance Matrix API works on a pay-as-you-go model.

    Notably, the API is priced per element: an element is equal to the number of origins multiplied by the number of destinations.

    The cost of Google's Distance Matrix API also differs based on whether you are using a Basic request or Distance Matrix Advanced.

    The table below shows pricing for a Basic request for the Google Distance Matrix API:

    Monthly Volume Range (Price per Element)
    0 - 100,000 100,001 - 500,000 500,000 +
    0.005 USD per each 
    ($5 per 1000)
    0.004 USD per each 
    ($4 per 1000)
    Contact Sales for volume pricing

    To compare, this means it would cost 2,000 Google elements for a single TravelTime credit. Since pricing is pay-as-you-go, your monthly bills will automatically increase if you have an unexpectedly busy month.

    Matrix pricing compared: a real-world example

    To see how much you would pay using Google or TravelTime, we’ll take a real-world example.  

    Let’s say your website has 10,000 listings and 100,000 monthly visitors. Each search must calculate the time or distance from the user’s starting point to all 10,000 listings.

    Here is how the pricing would break down for each API:

    Google Distance Matrix API TravelTime API*
    No. of elements needed per month 1 billion elements -
    No. of credits needed per month - 100,000 credits
    Price per month (excluding volume pricing) $4 million  £5,250 ($6,945)

    As the table shows, you would need to use a significant number of elements to calculate travel times from an origin to 10,000 locations with the Google Distance Matrix API – adding up to a significant monthly cost. In contrast, you can perform the same calculation using the TravelTime API, but at a fraction of the cost.

    *Note: the number of credits and price per month have been calculated based on the TravelTime Enterprise plan.

    Routing & isochrones pricing

    As mentioned above, TravelTime uses credits. Credits can be used for matrices – but also for making routes or isochrone maps.

    While the cost will vary according to your selected tier, all tiers cover the full range of TravelTime features: creating matrices, isochrones, routing, geocoding, as well as map tiles.

    Free plan Lite Rise Enterprise
    Price/month £0 £250 £700 Contact us
    No. isochrones or routes per minute 10 60 120 Bespoke
    No. isochrones or routes per month 1,000 300,000 800,000 Bespoke

    Note: We’ve calculated the table above using one-hour isochrones and routes. For travel times over one hour, see our pricing plans.

    TravelTime CTA

    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.

    Support

    TravelTime 

    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.

    Google 

    Support for the Google Distance MatrixAPI 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

    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 Google’s Distance Matrix API and the TravelTime 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.

    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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