Real-time Bus Occupancy Information
The TTC has partnered with transit trip planning mobile apps, Rocketman and Transit to provide real-time bus occupancy information to help customers plan and take their trips. Customers are able to see the volume of passengers on vehicles approaching their stop to help choose which vehicle they’re most comfortable boarding.
Most TTC buses are equipped with Automatic Passenger Counting (APC), which are electronic devices that use invisible infrared lights at doors to determine how many passengers board or exit buses. This data is now being shared with Rocketman and Transit to inform customers of the passenger volume on the next few buses, indicated by one, two or three icons. Information will be available for the next two or three buses approaching a stop; routes with more frequent bus service will have occupancy information for more vehicles. The TTC uses this same passenger information to deploy extra service where practical to reduce the number of customers on each bus.
Rocketman and Transit will categorize this data as:
- Not Busy: One icon, 0-30% of capacity (up to 15 people on a standard bus, 23 on an articulated bus)
- Busy: Two icons, 30-80% of capacity (15 to 40 customers on a standard bus, 23-54 on an articulated bus)
- Very Busy: Three icons, Greater than 80% of capacity (more than 40 customers on a standard bus, more than 54 on an articulated bus)
Note: Standard buses hold approximately 51 people while articulated buses hold 77
For the time being, the feature is only available for TTC buses. A small number of buses (34 of more than 2,000) currently in service do not have APC installed. If an approaching bus does not have APC, the occupancy level icons for that bus will not appear and only the arrival time will appear on the apps.
The Rocketman and Transit apps are available for iOS at the Apple App Store and for Android devices at the Google Play Store. Once downloaded, the passenger volume information for buses on each route will automatically appear.
The information offered through these apps is intended only as a guideline and relies on data outside the TTC’s control that, while rare, can be delayed getting to the apps potentially causing inaccurate readings. The TTC reminds customers that actual bus loads can change quickly as passengers board and exit vehicles, particularly at busy stops. Customers are advised to continue to use their own discretion and comfort level when deciding to board a vehicle.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How does Automatic Passenger Counting (APC) work?
Most TTC’s buses are equipped with VISION, which communicates many pieces of information about the bus back to the TTC in real-time. Automatic Passenger Counting (APC) data is just one piece of data. The VISION system provides the vehicle location information in real time to journey planning apps Rocketman and Transit. APC and its related technologies are used by many transit agencies to understand how many passengers are on board for service planning purposes. The technology of data collection is quite simple, but effectively counts passengers as they enter and exit each door of a bus. This data does not identify individual passengers.
When is Automatic Passenger Counting (APC) information used?
We normally use Customer Usage information from APC data system to assist with service planning and transit control, so we know where, when and how many customers are using TTC bus services route by route. We use APC data to monitor bus occupancy and optimize assigning buses on routes with higher demand.
The app isn’t working/downloading. Can you help?
Please contact Rocketman or Transit app directly for technical assistance.
How often does the app update the passenger ranges?
Data is updated approximately every 20 to 40 seconds.
The information on the app wasn’t accurate. Why did this happen?
At any one time, the on-board system knows how many people are on board within 95% accuracy. When used to provide customers with occupancy levels, the level of accuracy increases as we are reporting on ranges (0-30%, 30-80%, and >80%) rather than exact numbers of passengers. However, we understand that passenger numbers can change quickly as customers board and exit vehicles, particularly at busy stops. Customers are advised to continue to use their own discretion and comfort level when deciding to board a vehicle.
The icon didn’t appear for my bus route. Why did this happen?
A small number of buses currently in service (34 buses of more than 2,000 in the fleet) do not have Automatic Passenger Counting (APC) installed. If an approaching bus does not have APC, the occupancy level icons will not appear and only the arrival time will appear on the apps.
How far in advance will information be available for customers?
When a customer selects a particular stop, they will be able to see information for the next two or three buses approaching a stop depending on scheduled headways between vehicles. Routes with more frequent bus service will have capacity information for more vehicles.
How will this app feature help with physical distancing?
The TTC’s goal is to keep buses to a maximum of 50 per cent capacity or better. And while we are meeting or surpassing that goal 95 per cent of the time, there will be times a bus has more customers on board – the information in these apps will help customers see those vehicles in real time and plan accordingly.
Is this feature available for subway or streetcars?
For the time being, the feature is only available for TTC buses.
Will it be available after the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. While currently being used to promote physical distancing, this feature will be permanently implemented on the Rocketman and Transit apps, and possibly others in the future.