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Drawing a Travel Time Geodistance: Isochrone Maps for Driving & More

by Louisa Bainbridge on Jun 15, 2016

Creating a travel time isochrone map is easy

When using the TravelTime API it’s possible to create travel time isochrones using multiple modes of transport – a more relevant alternative to geodistance searching. In one API call you can generate a travel time shape, filter points of interest by travel time and generate A to B routes. Need to learn more about the difference between geodistance and isochrones? Check out our isochrone guide page for more detail.  

The map generator tool can be used:


geodistance-isochrone-map-polygon-waterloo public transport

Replace geodistance queries

Geodistance typically relates to a circular shape, this means that referring to an isochrone as a 'travel time radius' is incorrect. The term isochrone is more suitable. The isochrone shape drawn below shows all locations reachable within a specified travel time from a point of origin. In this example it displays all reachable locations from Central London within 45 minutes using public transport at 6pm on a Wednesday evening.

In order to generate this shape the API needs:

  1. An arrival / departure time (Depart at 6pm, Wednesday evening)
  2. A mode of transport (public transport)
  3. A point of origin (Waterloo)
  4. The maximum travel time (45 mins)

Arrival / Departure time

The example above draws an isochrone map assuming the user needs to depart at 6pm rather than arrive at this time – similar to how the standard ‘near me’ search works. Switching to arrival time would change this shape as the example below shows.


Use case for generating maps with an arrival time: someone searching for a new job can see which locations are reachable within a 1 hour commute if they were to arrive at 9am. It assumes the user can depart from the point of origin up to 1 hour before their specified arrival time.

Use case for drawing maps with a departure time: a supermarket can set up a geofence area within 10 minutes drive of a store. This will push a message to any customers with the app, alerting them to any local offers.

Mode of transport

When using the API you can choose from:

Point of origin / interest

The API can create isochrones assuming there is more than one point of origin. When there is more than one point of origin, isochrone map layers can:

Display two separate isochrones


Merge the two shapes together (as a union)


Highlight the intersecting area


Use cases:

  • A family looking for an ideal location to buy a new home that’s within reach of their current workplace or school location
  • A retailer plotting the best location of a new store based on their current store locations, their competitor’s stores and their customer base

Maximum travel time

This is specified within seconds using the API, however it can account for up to 12 hours total travel time. Not a developer? No problem, make a map free below with our own app,  

Visit the map resource centre


Isochrone maps