Online commuter rail schedules to display seat availability for MBTA trains

Posted: 22 November 2021 | | No comments yet

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Keolis Commuter Services have announced that online train schedules will now display typical ridership information for all trains.

Online commuter rail schedules to display seat availability for each train

The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services (Keolis), the MBTA’s operating partner for commuter rail, has announced that online train schedules will now display ridership information for all trains. In combination with more frequent commuter rail service throughout the day, providing insight into typical seat availability will allow passengers to better plan their travel and adjust according to their preferences. 

MBTA General Manager, Steve Poftak, said: “As we continue to see increased ridership return to commuter rail, this new seat availability data will enable riders to have an understanding of what ridership looks like on their particular train and on alternatives. With all-day frequency now in place at regular and predictable intervals across the network for more of a regional rail system, we hope riders will benefit from both flexible service and enhanced transparency around ridership as they plan their travel.”

Richard Dean, Keolis Vice President of Service Delivery, said: “By giving passengers more information for planning trips on commuter rail, we hope to provide them with a better sense of what to expect during their journey and an understanding of how ridership is returning on specific trains across all 14 commuter rail lines.” 

Developed as a joint effort between the MBTA and Keolis, the commuter rail seat availability information is regularly updated to reflect a trip’s typical ridership based on automated and conductor data from the past 14 to 30 days. As shown below, indicators are displayed on the online train schedules to reflect seat availability across all coaches on each train. The levels are constantly updated based on a trip’s median seat availability within a rolling 14 to 30 day period.

Based on industry standards, seat availability is defined using the following thresholds:

Riders should also be mindful that on a given train, some coaches may be more crowded than others. If a coach appears more crowded than typical, riders can choose to move to another less crowded coach on the train. It is also important to note that the new ridership information is not real-time seat availability and that, due to the nature of public transportation, trains may operate at a lighter or fuller capacity than typical on any given day.