Get us in your inbox

mta bus
Photograph: Shutterstock

The MTA’s app can now tell you how crowded NYC buses are in real-time

It uses infrared and 3D motion sensors pre-installed on MTA buses.

Collier Sutter

Any New Yorker knows commuting in New York usually means crowds of people in tightly packed, enclosed spaces.

While you can’t avoid being around other people in a busy city like NYC, the MTA is tuned in and eager to settle commuters minds by creating a mobile app feature that provides a real-time count of how many riders are onboard buses, MTA officials shared.

"Social distancing on public transit is a real challenge," MTA bus chief Craig Cipriano said during a demo of the new tech in Manhattan. "Customers [now] have the ability to see how many riders are on the bus, and can make their own informed choices."

The feature can trace the number of people on the bus thanks to infrared and 3D motion sensors pre-installed on the buses, said Sunil Nair, the MTA’s chief technology officer for buses.

Nair said the sensors take 3D outlines of riders as they hop on, which helps differentiate people from objects such as strollers, bags, or bicycles.

"We stand by the app," Nair said. "The rider count has been accurate each and every time. It’s real time, so there’s no lag here.”

The MTA says the new feature currently works for 40 percent of buses across the city and is in the process of expanding. The MTA launched a similar feature on the LIRR back in June, for Long Island and Queens commuters.

To know before you go and access the real-time app, you can head to the MTA’s website

Most popular on Time Out

- 8 gross things you’ll experience in New York as summer arrives
- This Brooklyn music venue has evolved into a tropical backyard restaurant
- Shark sightings force the closure of several New York beaches this week

- The 20 rules of living in New York
- The absolute best ’80s songs

Popular on Time Out

    Latest news

      Read next