New York-based commuter rail system Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has added a car capacity technology to Google Maps to provide commuters with real-time information on seating availability.
The new feature, developed in-house by LIRR developers and staff, will enable the passengers to use Google Maps to see the number of seats available in each rail car at any given moment.
The move makes LIRR one of the first two public transportation agencies globally to introduce the feature in Google Maps.
Transport for New South Wales in Sydney is also a part of Google’s pilot programme.
LIRR president Phil Eng said: “The LIRR is not only looking at best practices across the industry, but developing our own.
“Through our work with Google, more customers will be able to know as much information about their ride as possible. We want to make it as easy as possible for riders to make safe decisions as they return to the railroad.”
The real-time seat tracking function measures the weight of each car’s seating cabin using data from the suspension system to estimate the number of on-board passengers.
This process is used to determine seat availability on trains composed of M7 rail cars.
On trains with M9 train cars, infrared sensors are installed at the doorways to track the number of passengers.
Real-time seating availability information is already available through the LIRR Train Time app.
Separately, LIRR-owner Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that it will not increase fares this year as it expects a federal aid to bolster its financial stability.
The authority expects to receive nearly $10.5bn from December 2020’s Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed in March this year.
In April this year, LIRR signed an agreement with Alstom to test electric railcars on the Oyster Bay Branch route.