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Service Change Ongoing
MBTA service levels have been increased in the interest of the health and safety of our riders and employees. All riders must use face coverings when on the MBTA.   MBTA.com/coronavirus

Crowding Information for Riders

At Nubian 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 you can find live crowding information for our bus routes on our website, E ink screens, and in the Transit app.

For each route, our Customer Technology team verifies the accuracy of real-time crowding information through manual passenger counts.

When and Where You Can Find Crowding Information

Crowding information is available all day, every day for most MBTA bus routes.

For some routes, crowding information may not be available yet, or may only be available on certain days or times.

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 categories for bus: Not crowded, Some crowding, Crowded

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

Real-time crowding is a new data source we developed in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team is working hard to provide accurate crowding information on as many routes as possible, however, software bugs, connectivity issues along some routes, and a few buses without passenger counters installed have presented some roadblocks.

We’re working on technical improvements that should allow us to release crowding data on more bus routes. In the interim, we’re making real-time crowding information available where possible—information for additional bus routes will be available on a rolling basis as we validate data accuracy on each route.

Crowding data for the subway and Commuter Rail isn’t available yet, however, based on the information regarding recent crowding trends, we hope to provide safer trip recommendations this fall.

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.

Related Projects

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Ride Safer

Transit Ambassador at Maverick with face covering and ride safer button

As Massachusetts begins to reopen, we're committed to keeping you safe on public transportation. From hand sanitizer to crowding information, we've got you covered. 

Learn more about Ride Safer

Related Projects

View all projects

Ride Safer

Transit Ambassador at Maverick with face covering and ride safer button

As Massachusetts begins to reopen, we're committed to keeping you safe on public transportation. From hand sanitizer to crowding information, we've got you covered. 

Learn more about Ride Safer