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New South Wales releases train occupancy data for transport apps to improve transport efficiency

Train commuters in the Australian state of New South
Wales (NSW) can now choose the best train carriage to board based on real-time
train occupancy data displayed via an app. Currently accessible to more than
600 000 daily commuter rides on the latest Waratah trains which service 54% of
all train trips, the data can be accessed via transportnsw.info, or the TripView,
NextThere, Anytrip, TripGo and Opal Travel apps. Besides transport
applications, the Facebook Messenger chatbot RITA also displays real-time train
occupancy data.

Utilising
in-built weight sensors on Waratah trains, the app determines the occupancy of
each individual train carriage and continually updates each time the train
doors shut
.
Commuters can now “see how  full their train is before it arrives”,
according to NSW Premier Ms Gladys Berejiklian. Via the apps, commuters will
be informed of which carriages have seats available, and which carriages are
full.

While transportation data has been made available to the
public since the launch of Transport for New South Wales’s Open Data web portal
in April 2016, this move adopts a more service-centric approach to improving
the commuter experience.  “For customers
who commute home from Wynyard to Penrith, for example, getting a seat can be a
major factor in deciding which carriage to board,” said Transport and
Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance. “Letting customers know which
services might be full, or which carriages still have seats will make commuting
choices easier and help ease congestion.”

Since April 2016, Transport for NSW’s Open
Data web portal has provided public access to transport data, providing
opportunities for public-private collaborations on Big Data solutions for
transport commuters in NSW.

Still, even as the service-oriented move confers a degree
of autonomy to commuters, the release of train occupancy data does not address
existing infrastructural deficits which have made congestion on Sydney’s subway
lines a perpetual issue. Open access to Big Data in the field of transportation
may provide a catalyst for generating innovative solutions for NSW’s transport
future, but the issue of poor transport infrastructure and contentious
infrastructural investments such as the Sydney CBD light rail remain
unresolved. 

According to a
recent article published by the Sydney Morning Herald,
latest figures indicate
that “crowding on Sydney's trains has worsened significantly in just a year”,
and that it has led to “greater pressure on an aged rail network struggling to
cope with a booming population”.

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