Does Google Maps Really Give The Best Route?

Does Google Maps give you the best possible route or does it sometimes send your through tolls intentionally?

So I just recently moved to Southern California ( Chino, CA to be exact). I drove all the way from Maryland using Google Maps on my Galaxy S4 the entire way… easily avoiding tolls.

Excellent experience to say the least… I never got lost (win)! I also used it to find some of the best tasting food in the many states I crossed.

I have to say I have never been a fan of always using GPS. I grew up using my own sense of direction and regular road maps when needed. I always felt like GPS could fail one day and then what?

So here is my issue with Google Maps since moving to Chino.

Five days a week I travel to Santa Ana for work.

There are a few travel routes I can take. Two of the routes are in my direction, while the other two take me north and then back south. Keep in mind that I have to be at work by 11:00 am.

Without traffic this commute takes roughly 30 minutes max.

Always Traffic in Southern California

But as many SoCal commuters know… there is usually traffic and that means it might be a goof idea to check my GPS to see what the quickest route is today.

Where I live in Chino, the quickest route on any given day is taking Route 71 to the 91 Freeway to Freeway 55.

But wait…

There is another option… I can also take the toll road, 241 to 261. The cost is $6.00 each way.

Now here is my issue.

When I type my work address into Google Maps this is what i get…

Google Maps Toll Road Route Chino to Santa Ana

How to Avoid Tolls in Google Maps

Avoiding tolls is something I never had to do until I moved to California. I ¬†find that a number of other people don’t know how to use this function.

So this is what you do.

6 Steps For Avoiding Tolls While Using Maps

On your map screen (look at my screenshot above) there are the “from” and “to” fields… Now just follow these steps.

  1. Click on the 3 vertical dots to the right of the “from” field
  2. You will see a box pop-up… at the bottom of this box is “route options”
  3. Press “route options” and another box will pop-up
  4. You have the option to Avoid Highways, Avoid Tolls or Avoid Ferries.
  5. Press “Avoid Tolls”
  6. Then Press “Done”

It takes a few steps but that’s all there is to it. Now you can avoid paying tolls when it’s actually unnecessary!

The Fastest Route…

Okay cool… so the best route is using the 241 to 261 (the $6 toll road). The other routes obviously will take too long as I need to be at work by 11:00.

Anyway, why spend 10 – 25 extra minutes with the other routes if I don’t have to… right?

But hold on…

As we can see there is another route that is not mentioned (the 25 min slower icon is blocking it). This route is continuing on Freeway 91 onto Freeway 55.

Being new to California and not initially knowing other options, one can easily assume this route must be jammed and takes longer than 25 minutes because they don’t even use it as an option.

The assumption would be WRONG!

So, here is what you get if you know how to select “avoid tolls” in your route options. Something I didn’t know because I rarely use GPS.

Check this out.

Maps Free Route

The TRUE Fastest Route!

That’s right, 32 minutes… Three minutes faster than the previous “fastest route” and one mile shorter. This is just one example. I see this everyday I check my GPS.

Sometimes it is legit. There may be an accident so the toll road is actually quicker, but it’s been rare over the last 4 months.

Now this has me thinking… “Google prides themselves on helping there users get the best information / results, quickly.” So, why would they not give me this route when it is by far the best option.


Why Not Give The Best Route?

I thought deeper. When I am riding on the toll road there are many signs that say “pay within 5 days” if you don’t have an account.

After not paying some tolls I had to go to the toll website, which happens to be Now, another light bulb goes off. Roads belong to the respective state government, so why is this site not a .gov website?

After a little digging I found that the roads where built without taxpayer dollars. Private investment dollars were used and bonds were issued. Basically speaking…

Those investors want there money back and with a ROI (return on investment).

But how could they make this road preferred over the other route… well Google is an advertiser, a huge one. The advertise to fill those investments.

I am subjected to re-marketing on Facebook and other web pages all the time. There business is the actual road and one way to get people there is to suggest that route over the other routes.

At $6.00 each way and $12.00 if I take it going to work and coming back home… you see how that adds up quickly.

I wrote this because there are so many people who don’t know about “route options” or they are simply visiting the area, trusting that they are being given the best possible route.

Sorry, but you may be wasting $6 – $12 a day.

I’d love to hear any similar experiences.

Let me know what you think and share if you’ve experienced this too.


**Note: Google has tons of ways and algorithyms to figure this stuff out so who knows what the reasoning for what seems like “toll promotion.”

These are just my thoughts from my experience and observation.

2 Comments on "Does Google Maps Really Give The Best Route?"

  1. Julia George | February 17, 2016 at 2:12 pm |

    Useful & instructive info, really!Thanks!

  2. I’m happy you found it useful. Thank you.

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