AC Transit Now Offering Real-Time Onboard Crowding Information in the Fight against COVID-19

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) continues its reNEW Plan commitment – developing technologies to safeguard against the risk of COVID-19 transmission – by launching the ACT RealTime Rider Capacity Feature, exclusively on Tempo Line 1T. The Rider Capacity Feature offers live and real-time onboard crowding information 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and is being introduced in beta mode.

How the Rider Capacity Feature Works

The automated passenger counter (APC) sensors, embedded on each door of all 27 Tempo buses, power the Rider Capacity Feature. The APC sensors are digitally linked to our trusted ACT RealTime technology – our transit district’s GPS tracking of each bus and refreshed every 15 seconds – which processes and transmits data each time a rider boards or exits the Tempo coach.

Tempo’s onboard rider count is then digitally sent to the AC Transit website and our third-party partners Transit App, Google, 511, and Moovit.

Tempo Line 1T is serving as the fleet for the exclusive beta launch, of the Rider Capacity Feature, because its buses are some of the newest in our fleet and manufactured with APC sensors.

Tempo has also consistently attracted new riders, along its 9.5-mile corridor, and accordingly is in high demand, particularly during peak travel hours. Although Tempo’s 60-foot hybrid technology coaches create our fleet’s second-highest seating capacity, onboard seating is diminished to a maximum of 16 riders as a result of social distancing mandates by county public health. These health guidelines are resulting in onboard crowding.

ac transit crowding information rider capacity
Crowding information will be available 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

To address Tempo rider capacity demands, our software engineers initiated proof-of-concept trials that spanned three months. The trials separately tested APC sensors, in-person manual rider counts, and video-based rider counts. The results overwhelming demonstrated APC sensors consistently and reliably captured onboard crowding data each time the Tempo bus docked at a station.

As we proceed with evaluations in beta mode, AC Transit’s engineering team will able to evaluate the APCs scalability for potential activation across the AC Transit bus fleet. Rider feedback is also essential to the success of this feature and can be offered through our customer services channels by logging onto, emailing [email protected], or calling Customer Services at 510-891-4777, and select option 2.

Although onboard computers have been installed throughout the entire fleet, most AC Transit buses still require APC sensor retrofitting, which is forecasted for completion in late 2021. The APC retrofit is also costly. As a result, while in beta mode, AC Transit will actively pursue funding sources to modernize our entire fleet with the Rider Capacity Feature.

The onboard capacity icons are simple to understand: green indicates, “not crowded”; yellow “some crowding”; and red represents “crowded” or at maximum capacity.

This article was originally published by AC Transit.


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