A real-time crowding information pilot was initiated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) for nine bus routes. The information is available on MBTA’s website, on e-ink digital signs and within the Transit app, MBTA’s endorsed smartphone app.
“We’re excited to offer this new real-time feature as a pilot to our riders to help limit crowding as customers begin to return to the MBTA system,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “With riders requesting information about crowding, this new real-time information provides riders with the confidence and flexibility to make informed choices about their commutes.”
The MBTA selected this first set of nine bus routes to pilot real-time information as these are busy routes with notably high ridership during the pandemic. For each route, the MBTA’s Customer Technology team verified the accuracy of real-time crowding information through manual passenger counts.
Crowding levels are described as “Crowded,” “Some Crowding” and “Not Crowded.” These standards are based on the temporarily lowered crowding threshold standards that accommodate social distancing measures. Customers can learn more about these thresholds online. Crowding information will continue to be available to customers as the commonwealth transitions through its opening phases, with the MBTA’s Customer Technology team adjusting as needed to best communicate this information. Crowding information is displayed online on the schedule page by clicking or tapping the vehicle icons on the maps or line diagrams.
Crowding information for additional bus routes will be made available throughout the summer as data accuracy is further refined and verified. Later this summer, the MBTA says it will also publish crowding trends for bus and subway routes online and on e-ink digital signs to help riders estimate crowding levels as they plan their trips.