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LIRR's Leading Global Car Capacity Technology Now Available in Google Maps

Long Island Rail Road
Updated July 21, 2021 6:00 p.m.

Feature Originally Designed for TrainTime App was Built In-House by LIRR Staff  


Real-Time Information Lets Customers Choose Cars With Most Open Seats 


LIRR and Transport for New South Wales Part of Google’s Pilot Program 


Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng today announced that the LIRR is one of the first two public transportation agencies in the world to have real-time seating availability be included in Google Maps

Using technology developed by the LIRR, customers can now turn to Google Maps in addition the LIRR Train Time app to see the number of seats available in each car at any given moment so that they can make informed decisions based on the real-time data of how many customers are on each train car.  

"The LIRR is not only looking at best practices across the industry, but developing our own,” said President Eng. “Through our work with Google, more customers will be able to know as much information about their ride as possible. We want to make it as easy as possible for riders to make safe decisions as they return to the railroad. I want to thank the LIRR staff for their hard work on this industry-leading technology that will now be used across multiple apps.” 

“The 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. “The Long Island Rail Road’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.” 

“In New York and Sydney, we’re piloting the ability to see live crowdedness information right down to the transit car level,” wrote Eric Tholomé, Director of Product, Google Maps. “This feature is powered by data from agencies like Long Island Rail Road and Transport for New South Wales, with more cities coming soon.” 

On trains composed of M7 rail cars, the real-time seat tracking function works by measuring the weight of each car’s seating cabin using data from the suspension system. LIRR modified the software on the car to transmit this weight value to a central server, from which a nearly precise estimate of how many customers are on board can be derived.? On M9 train cars, the doorways on each car are equipped with infrared sensors that counts the number of times a person walks in or out of the door. 

The capacity tracking features were built entirely in-house by LIRR developers and staff with an intimate understanding of the railroad.