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Crowding Information for Riders

At Dudley Station late at night, a Route 1 bus bound for Harvard waits as another bus zooms by.

To keep riders informed during the COVID-19 outbreak, we are piloting new real-time information on crowding. This means riders can find live crowding information for some of our busier bus routes on our website, E Ink screens, and in the Transit app.

Information is now available for bus routes 1, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 31, 32, 66, 70, 71, 73, 86, 104, 109, and 110.

We are prioritizing busy routes with notably high ridership during the pandemic. For each route, our Customer Technology team verifies the accuracy of real-time crowding information through manual passenger counts. We are adding more routes throughout the summer. 

How to Use it

Crowding information is now available on our website, on certain digital signs, and within the Transit app.

On Our Website

Visit the schedule page for any route the information is available for, and then tap or click the vehicle icon on the map or the line diagram.

Animated GIF showing a user hovering over bus arrows (which show real-time locations on the map or line diagram). Hovering triggers a tool tip  with the degree of crowding on that given bus - for example, not crowded, some crowding, crowded.

At Stations

You might see E Ink screens that predict crowding levels on the buses scheduled to arrive.

on-vehicle crowding symbols as shown on e-ink screens

Crowding Categories

We describe crowding in three categories based on current social distancing standards on our vehicles: Not crowded, Some crowding, and Crowded.

crowding buckets for bus

We are monitoring usage and feedback, and will adjust these categories as public health conditions change. For example, a standard bus with 20 riders is currently labeled as “Crowded,” but might not be considered crowded when social distancing becomes less necessary. 

What’s Next

This is a new data source we developed in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We plan to make frequent improvements and additions based on feedback from riders.

Real-time crowding information for additional bus routes will be available this summer as we validate data accuracy on each route. For some bus routes, sharing this data is not currently possible. For example, some of our buses don’t have passenger counters installed on them and some routes and bus types do not currently meet our standard for data accuracy. We are actively reviewing and adjusting our approach so we can make this information available for more routes.

As for the subway and Commuter Rail, we don’t currently have the ability to share real-time crowding information. However, we can use information about recent crowding trends to provide safer trip recommendations to riders—we hope to make this available this summer. 

Contact Us

Tell us what you think! Send your questions or feedback to our Customer Support team. The data is also available to third-party app developers in our official APIs

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