HSL Journey Planner to inform passengers about bus occupancy rates

The Journey Planner on hsl.fi will start providing users with up-to-date information on how crowded buses are. In the first phase, the occupancy rate will be shown for the newest buses in use. The buses are equipped with monitoring equipment that is used to determine the occupancy rate of the bus. At the moment, occupancy data can be collected for over 400 buses and the number is gradually growing. If proven successful, the service may in the future cover all public transport vehicles.

“To be able to see the occupancy rate of a bus will improve our customers’ everyday lives. We can encourage more people to use sustainable transportation methods if public transportation services are smooth and reliable,” says Joona Packalén, Head of Travel Information and Passenger Information at HSL.  

Passengers can use the real-time information on the occupancy rate of buses to plan their journeys. It can help passengers e.g. to choose a bus that is less crowded, or they can use it to minimize the time they have to wait at the bus stop.

Four descriptive categories for the occupancy rate 

Various technical methods are used to count the number of passengers. Bus doors are equipped with counters and light sensors to count the number of passengers. The system processes the occupancy rate data in seconds and then transmits the data to passengers. The system will not identify individual passengers. 

The occupancy rate of buses is shown in the Journey Planner by means of four descriptive categories: not crowded, not too crowded, nearly full and very crowded. 

Users of the Journey Planner do not need to take any actions to start using the feature. The occupancy rate is shown in the view displaying the buses or in the route suggestions. Since the occupancy rate is based on real-time information, it will appear in the route suggestions approximately 10 minutes before the bus arrives at the stop. This makes it possible to provide passengers with information that is as accurate as possible. 


Implementation as cooperation project 

The project has received funding from the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom. The funding of innovations enables the traffic sector to implement new technology that creates opportunities for increasing the popularity of public transport and improving the customer experience. 

Digitransit is a service (www.digitransit.fi) maintained by Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL), the traffic control company Fintraffic Oy and Waltti Solutions.