Commuters travelling on Melbourne’s rail network can now see how crowded selected stations and trains are ahead of time thanks to a new online tool, dubbed RideSpace.
But the data collected by passenger counting sensors and predictive modelling technology is yet to be made available to third-parties for use in their journey planning apps.
The tool, launched on Sunday, shows the “current and predicted level of busyness for trains, stations and platforms” on metropolitan lines, displayed using icons “ranging from very quiet to very busy”.
It follows a four-month trial with an initial group of around 50 train and bus users, with work fast-tracked to assist physical distancing.
Similar technology is already used in NSW to show real-time seat availability on Waratah trains, allowing passengers to pre-empt possible crowding.
The tool has been developed by Myki ticketing system operator NTT Data and Telstra Purple, and uses undisclosed predicative data modelling and machine learning for real-time crowding estimates.
Consat Telematics and Sage Technology were also reportedly involved in the project.
The tool is part of a two-pronged attempt by the government to entice Melbournians back to public transport in the aftermath of the state’s deadly Covid-19 outbreak last year.
The government is also offering commuters a 30 percent off-peak travel fare discount for three months.
Capacity data from the tool is expected to made available to third-party journey planning apps shortly, though the government did not indicate when this would occur.
Public transport minister Ben Carrol said the tool “puts the information Victorians need to make smart travel choices directly into the palm of their hands”.
“It’s innovative technology that will make Covid-normal travel safe and easy,” he said.