Photo Courtesy of Patrick Cashin/MTA
“These are immensely challenging times, but this unprecedented crisis has also given us a rare opportunity to rethink the ways we interact with and empower our customers,” LIRR Chief Innovation Officer Will Fisher said.
By Forum Staff
The Long Island Rail Road on Tuesday unveiled a first-of-its-kind planning tool that allows customers to choose trains based on recent crowding data.
According to Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials, LIRR is the first transit agency globally to deploy the crowding data feature, which empowers customers with information so accurate and precise that they never have to second guess the best time to use the system.
The newest feature gives customers access to the median ridership of the past seven trips of a specific train, at any station, updated every morning to include the prior day’s data, LIRR officials said. Customers can plan their trip by selecting the time of their trip and which stations they are traveling between, and will see icons below specific trains gauging the capacity of each train. The icons range from 1 to 4, with 4 being the most crowded and 1 being the least crowded. By clicking on a specific train, customers can then see the crowding data.
For instance, someone traveling from Babylon to Penn Station around 7 a.m. can know ahead of time if the 6:49 a.m. or the 7:10 a.m. is least crowded based on the icons. For riders that do not board at end-of-line stations they can track how crowded a train gets at each station by clicking on that specific train. A customer traveling from Amityville to Penn Station, for example, would know ahead of time if their train will become more crowded as they approach Jamaica station. This gives customers interested in maximizing their social distance while riding the tools necessary to know their commute.
“In the days and months following the start of this global pandemic, MTA Chairman Pat Foye openly discussed the possibility of instituting a reservation style ticketing system on the railroads. What we’ve developed is even better,” LIRR President Phil Eng said. “In effect, the historical loading feature updates daily and provides our customers with perfect data. Our riders can rest assured that this information is reliable and never subject to human error. Our customers will be able to understand the exact ridership trends of their particular trip so that they can make the most ideal decision possible about when to ride with us. MTA LIRR TrainTime is first in class and our customers deserve nothing less.”
According to the LIRR, the function works by utilizing sophisticated sensors which can determine how many passengers are on board a train at any given moment. LIRR then securely transmits and processes all of this encrypted data in the cloud, and seamlessly provides it back out to customers in a useful form in real time.
“Make no mistake, the features in this app are as innovative as anything we’re seeing in public transportation globally in the aftermath of the pandemic,” LIRR Chief Innovation Officer Will Fisher added. “These are immensely challenging times, but this unprecedented crisis has also given us a rare opportunity to rethink the ways we interact with and empower our customers. This new feature will seamlessly provide the kind of data our riders are seeking as they begin returning to LIRR.”