AC Transit offers live crowding information to aid fight against COVID-19

AC Transit
Sunny Shen/Staff
AC Transit launched the ACT RealTime Rider Capacity Feature, which offers onboard crowding information 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

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AC Transit is now providing live information about crowding on some buses to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

According to AC Transit spokesperson Robert Lyles, AC Transit launched the ACT RealTime Rider Capacity Feature as part of its reNEW Plan, which launched in the summer with the aim of developing technologies to help public transit adapt to the pandemic.

“We have deployed several upgrades including retrofitted Bus Operator Shields across our entire bus fleet,” Lyles said in an email. “(AC Transit is) the first East Bay Transit agency to offer onboard facemasks and hand sanitizer dispensers; anti-viral fogging and use of electrostatic sprayers on each bus nightly.”

In addition to providing onboard COVID-19 protection via the reNEW Plan, AC Transit requires onboard physical distancing of 6 feet between each passenger, according to a Sept. 14 AC Transit press release.

AC Transit is also providing additional buses to accommodate rider overflow and prevent overcrowding, the press release stated.

Lyles said the newest addition to the evolving reNEW Plan is the Rider Capacity Feature, which offers onboard crowding information 24 hours a day and seven days a week, according to an AC Transit press release from Nov. 4. The Rider Capacity Feature was introduced in beta on the Tempo Line 1T in Oakland and San Leandro, a fleet with some of AC Transit’s newest buses.

“It is essential to note, while many employers adopted remote working, AC Transit never ceased operations,” Lyles said in the email. “We have been essential to the Bay Area’s infrastructure, and our reNEW Plan will continue to evolve and advance to protect the health and safety of our riders and employees.”

All 27 Tempo Line buses have been outfitted with automated passenger counters that record each time a passenger enters or exits a bus, according to the November press release. This data is then sent digitally to the AC Transit website as well as third-party transit tracking apps and sites.

While the Rider Capacity Feature is currently in beta, AC Transit will continue to pursue funding sources so it can “modernize” its entire fleet with these technologies, according to the November press release.

“We have weathered earthquakes, social unrest, even a global recession through sound planning,” said AC Transit Board of Directors President Joe Wallace in the September press release. “Our reNEW Plan joins that tradition of planning excellence by demonstrating how AC Transit is working around the clock to restore full service and confidence, without compromising health and safety.”

Contact Jasmine Lee at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @JasmineLee_02.