Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) has introduced a new feature in its online journey planner that displays real-time bus occupancy information. Initially, this service is available for the newest buses equipped with counting devices, covering over 400 buses. The number is expected to increase gradually, and based on the success of this initiative, HSL may extend the service to other modes of public transportation.
Joona Packalén, HSL’s Information Chief, stated, "By providing intelligent occupancy data, we aim to improve our customers' daily experience. Making public transport convenient and reliable can encourage more people to choose this environmentally friendly mode of travel."
The real-time occupancy information allows passengers to plan their journeys more effectively. For instance, it can help them choose less crowded buses or reduce waiting times at bus stops.
Bus occupancy is measured using various technical methods, including counters or light sensors at the doors to count passengers. The system processes the data in seconds and communicates it to passengers, indicating how full the bus is. Importantly, the system does not identify passengers' personal information.
In the journey planner, bus occupancy levels are indicated on a four-point scale: no congestion, not too crowded, nearly full, and very crowded. This feature does not require any special activation by users and can be easily accessed in the nearby bus view or route suggestions. As the information is real-time, it appears in the route suggestions about 10 minutes before the bus arrives at the stop, ensuring accuracy.
This project is part of a collaborative effort and has received funding from Traficom, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency, for public transportation in large urban areas for 2023. Funding innovations in the transportation sector allows for the adoption of new technologies, fostering growth opportunities for public transport popularity and improved customer experience.
The Digitransit service, which powers this feature, is maintained by the Helsinki Region Transport Authority (HSL), the Traffic Control Company Fintraffic Oy, and Waltti Solutions (www.digitransit.fi). The introduction of this new feature marks a significant step towards enhancing public transportation services in the Helsinki region by leveraging technology for better customer experiences.