Public transport users know the pain. You get to the station, stand in your usual spot on the platform and when the train rolls in, there aren’t any seats in the carriages close to you. But by using some sensors that weigh the carriages, Sydney trains will be able to let you know which carriages have the fewest people, helping you find a seat for the long commute.
Sydney is the first city in Australia to enable access to data from sensors on trains via a new app. As a train rolls into your station, you’ll be able to identify the lightest carriage and, therefore, the one most likely to have some free seats. The data will be live tonight and available to popular transport apps. So, as well as being able to see when your train is coming, you’ll be able to work out which carriage you’ll get a seat in.
Most people tend to head for the centre of there train so, while those carriages might be packed, there are often seats at front and rear of the train.
When you’re looking at an app with the data, carriages will be labelled as either green yellow or red depending on whether there are seats, filling up or full respectively.
The bad news is that the data isn’t available for every train. Only about half the Sydney train network operates with the Waratah trains which have the required hardware to collect and share the data although another 24 Waratah trains are being added to the network over the next few months.
As more people turn to public transport in order to avoid congested traffic and as the population continues to sprawl, the public transport network is under increasing pressure to improve services for commuters. And while this doesn’t add any more seats or capacity, it does mean travellers can increase their chances of finding a seat and having a more comfortable trip.
It also highlights how data can help deliver better services by helping organisations better utilise the resources they have.