Some straphangers can now know when their bus is too crowded to board.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority programmers on Tuesday added a new feature to the agency’s app that allows riders to plug in the route they plan to ride and see how many passengers are aboard buses headed to their stops.
MTA honochos hope the update helps bus riders be better informed in their efforts to social distance on buses as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sicken hundreds of New Yorkers a day.
“What we said from the beginning is social distancing on public transit is a real challenge,” said Craig Cipriano, NYC Transit’s senior vice president of buses. “What we find valuable is that customers have the ability to see how many riders are on the bus and can make their own informed choices.”
The feature provides real-time data to riders, but is only available on roughly 40% of the MTA’s buses where crews have installed sensors that count passengers entering and exiting the bus.
The information is available on the MTA’s website and in the MyMTA iPhone app. Android phones will get see people-counting feature added to their MyMTA apps next month, officials said.
Transit officials have used sensors to estimate bus ridership since late March, when the MTA began to direct riders to board from rear doors on local buses to give drivers space to social distance during the pandemic.
Ridership is typically tabulated from MetroCard swipes. The agency has counted passengers with sensors because straphangers have been given free rides on most buses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cipriano pointed out that bus ridership has outpaced subway ridership since the city’s coronavirus lockdown caused mass transit usage in to plummet by more than 90%.
Since mid-April, the MTA’s bus network has carried more passengers than any bus or subway network in the country.
The upgrade is a step forward for the MyMTA app, which after its launch in early 2018 was widely chided by riders for being inaccurate and hard to use.