Gone but not forgotten – the route 24 tram

As part of the July 2014 tram timetable change, the peak-only route 24 service from North Balwyn to La Trobe Street via Kew was discontinued.

A2.287 heads west with a route 24 service on La Trobe Street at Swanston

However some people are having trouble moving on, as can be seen in Google Maps – the public transport layer still includes route 24.

February 2015 - route 24 tram still displayed in Google Maps

The current inability to use Google Transit in Melbourne is well known, but as for the reason why the tram route is still shown, we need to dig into how Google displays public transport information in their maps.

The first version of Google Transit went live in 2005, but it took until 2007 for it to be rolled into Google Maps. A second enhancement came in 2009, when the ability to display a ‘Transit Layer’ on a map was added.

Google had the following to say when it was released:

Whereas the main Google Transit product has the goal to provide full schedule information and routing, the objective of the Transit Layer is to overlay lines visually on Google Maps. Think of a virtual metro map on top of Google Maps — even when we don’t have itinerary planning available, we want you to be able to see public transit options that are available. Our goal is to be able to offer transit information as an alternative to driving directions wherever possible.

Melbourne’s tram routes are an example of this ‘transit layer’ only mode, which is why Yarra Trams is the only Melbourne public transport operator that appears on Google Transit’s list of cities covered. It also means that the route 24 bug is caused by Yarra Trams – they need to send an updated transit layer file to Google.


This list compiled by Hugh Waldron details the history of ‘route 24’:

Allocated from 25/9/1972, previously this route showed Route 48 when travelling from La Trobe Street.

Was extended from La Trobe and Spencer Streets to Flinders Street West via Docklands from 23/5/2005 to 18/11/2005.

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4 Responses to “Gone but not forgotten – the route 24 tram”

  1. Adam says:

    This is not the only “bug” on Google Maps relating to trams. I don’t know how long ago it was removed, but Google Maps still shows a tram stop on the corner of Swanston and Grattan Streets, as well as many other Swanston Street tram stops being placed on the map nowhere near their actual locations.

    • James A says:

      The Google Transit trams layer for Melbourne hasn’t been updated in a number of years. Its laziness both on the part of Yarra Trams and Google. It’s inaccurate in terms of stops (where stops have been moved or removed), extensions (eg, along Collins St in Docklands) and of course, routes (24, 112, 79, etc etc).

      Another note is that the blue train icons that are on the map are also outdated. New stations like South Morang and Williams Landing don’t have a train icon, simply a dot that would usually denote a business listing or in WL’s case, no icon at all.

      • Marcus Wong says:

        I’m guessing the Google Transit trams layer hasn’t been updated because it was manually created years ago, and whoever was original responsible has ended up somewhere else in Yarra Trams.

        As for the railway station icons, that is an interesting pickup – Cardinia Road is also missing, but Lynbrook does appear.

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