The transit agency announced the launch of a capacity-tracking feature that shows passenger counts on city buses. The smartphone app feature aims to help with social distancing during the pandemic.
Wondering how many riders are already on the bus you’re waiting for? Now, there’s an app for that -- and it just may help with social distancing amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On Tuesday, the MTA announced the piloted launch of a new capacity tracking feature on the agency’s website and the official MYmta app that allows prospective riders to check the number of passengers on a coming bus before it arrives.
The new feature is expected to help reduce overcrowding on the city’s buses by showing customers which buses are already reaching their socially-distanced capacity limits, allowing them to either wait for the next bus or make alternate travel plans.
“This pilot is a great start to providing a level of comfort to our customers who can see beforehand if they want to board a bus or wait for another based on the number of riders on board,” said Craig Cipriano, president, MTA Bus; senior vice president, NYCT Department of Buses. “As we continue to navigate through this pandemic, we know how important it is to provide the safest and most efficient service we can.”
Existing users of the MYmta mobile app will receive an automatic update that will allow them to view passenger counts on coming buses, with the feature also available for those using a computer at the new.mta.info website.
The real-time passenger numbers are determined using Automated Passenger Counter (APC) sensors placed above the bus doorways that use infrared and 3D image pattern technology to count the number of passengers onboard.
The sensors are currently installed on buses throughout the five boroughs, but only approximately 40% of the MTA bus fleet has been equipped thus far, meaning the app can’t yet provide passenger counts for all arriving buses.
“Our over 2 million riders on New York City Transit are already noticing cleaner trains and buses and being vigilant about wearing masks and using hand sanitizer, but we want to give riders all the tools available to maximizing social distancing,” said Sarah Feinberg, interim president of New York City Transit. “With this MYmta pilot, bus customers can choose to space themselves out a bit more where capacity allows.”
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