April 25, 2013

BART launches estimated train crowding feature

Visitors to the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) website and mobile site can now get a snapshot of estimated crowding levels on trains when they plan a trip.

The beta version of the estimated crowding feature launched earlier this week.

When using the BART QuickPlanner, the trip plan will show an icon with three heads, two heads or one head — indicating “heavy crowding expected,” “moderate crowding expected” or “light crowding expected.”

The new feature is a response in part to record ridership levels on BART, giving riders another tool to find a train with more space, if they have flexibility to make their trip a little earlier or later.

The crowding level estimates are based on historic data; BART’s Web team worked closely with BART’s scheduling department to coordinate the new feature in an effort to give riders more choices.

“Although the data is not real time, the historic data we're using is generally predictive, and customers will be able to see which trips are less crowded than others,” said Timothy Moore, BART website manager.

QuickPlanner trip plans also tell riders whether bicycles are allowed on BART at a particular time or not. The crowding level feature is also intended to provide guidance to bicyclists, because even outside commute period blackouts, bicyclists are instructed to "only board cars that can comfortably accommodate you and your bicycle," under the BART bike rules.

BART is evaluating the results from a bike pilot held March 18 to 22 allowing bikes on board at all times, with only some restrictions. The results of the pilot will be presented to the board of directors at a future meeting, with opportunity for public comment, before determining what happens next with bikes on BART.

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