New improvements to the “Places of Interest -> Transportation” sub-layer in Google Earth have been quietly introduced. If you open the Transportation layer folder you will see there are several levels of information for Airports, Rail, Subway, Tram, etc.
I had already noticed that the airports layer now have better accuracy for “Airport Maps” which show outlines to US airports, and the color changed from white to yellow-green (Airport maps are no longer present). Today I noticed that the Rails layer now show different colored tracks for some cities, and include train stations in some places as well. All of these layers are vector lines drawn over the satellite/aerial photos in GE. Apparently the colored tracks are for subways or local trains, and so far I have just seen them for major metropolitan areas in US cities. Please let me know by adding a comment if you find other locations. Try San Francisco, Los Angelos, Boston, Washington DC, and Chicago for examples. I suggest you turn on the Transportation layer and go exploring!
(By the way, the Golden Gate Bridge 3D model in this screenshot came from the Google 3DWarehouse)
[UPDATE 0835: I just experimented with all the layers and found out that Germany and Italy in particular have much better information in the the layers (like schools, community services, parks, shopping, transportation, etc.) than I remember in the past. A lot of Europe has good data as well if you zoom in.]
[UPDATE 2009: These layers are now providing data on many countries around the world, and some of the layers such as subway, metro and bus contain real-time information on arrivals/depatures.]
About Frank Taylor
Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.
Just tried it out and it had indeed better data. Unfortunately it isn’t very accurate and only shows regular rail in Germany. I hope Google will add further information soon, including “U-Bahn” and “S-Bahn”.
Phil Wyatt says
Is there a central repository of all Google Maps and Earth layers, organized in some way?
Michael Rivera says
What happened to the tranportation layer? It used to be under points of interest. Now I can’t find the layer at all and train stations (without indicating rail (metro) lines) are shown on the new places of interest layer and you don’t have the option to view only certain sublayers (trains, trams, ferries, etc.). I’m really disappointed with this omission.
Dan W says
Transportation layer has been missing for around a month, and that means no Traffic layer which I need to use in the Chicago area. There should be a place on Google where “Out of Service” notes are displayed, so we don’t spend hours trying to find missing features.
Bob Cozby says
How do I modify the color/thickness of the line for Transportation/Rail. It is so thin, I can hardly see it, and when I zoom in, it disappears.
Is there some way I can add lines, or at the least identify them in my database (i.e. “Abandoned – formerly CB&Q” etc.