Long Island Rail Road.

USA: MTA Long Island Rail Road passengers can now obtain real-time information about seat availability through Google Maps.

The technology was developed in-house by the operator. ‘LIRR continues to innovate and develop cutting-edge technology to allow riders to plan their trip right down to the train car in real time’, said LIRR Chief Innovation Officer Will Fisher. ‘LIRR’s capacity tracker can serve as a model for transit agencies around the world, like the LIRR’s industry-leading railroad crossing motorist alerts that were adopted by Google Waze in 2019.’

On LIRR’s M7 EMUs, the real-time seat tracking function works by measuring the weight of each car using data from the suspension system. LIRR modified the software on the car to transmit this weight value to a central server, from which an estimate of how many people are on board can be derived. On M9 cars the doorways are equipped with infrared sensors that count the number of times a person boards or alights.

A similar system is being piloted in Sydney by Google and Transport for New South Wales.