Social distance assist: Metro adds real-time crowding information

In an effort to ensure social distancing on public transportation, WMATA unveiled a tool Wednesday that allows commuters to see, in real time, how full a bus is before it arrives.

“Metro is doing our part to help Metro customers feel safe when traveling, and we’re proud to release this new tool to help customers make more informed travel decisions,” said Metro’s general manager/CEO, Paul Wiedefeld.

“Social distancing is a top concern as we all navigate this public health crisis, and we hope customers find this information valuable when deciding when to ride.”

Metro said technology aboard every Metrobus senses when customers enter and exit. And while Metrorail doors are not equipped with such sensors, rail-crowding predictions are also available based on recent crowding data.

Metro said that when they access the data, customers will see a bus or train’s capacity in one of the following categories:

“Many seats available”

  • When a bus is less than 25% occupied.
  • When a rail car is less than 20% occupied.

“Few seats available”

  • When a bus is 25-49% occupied.
  • When a rail car is 20%-32% occupied.


  • When a bus is at least 50% occupied.
  • When a rail car is at least 33% occupied.

Metro said the crowding data is subject to suspension due to large-scale events, unplanned service disruptions or significant track work that could make the information unreliable.

And in an effort to improve the tool’s accuracy, Metro is asking customers to provide feedback about their experience by filling out this form for Metrorail and this form for Metrobus.

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is a versatile broadcaster with a broad range of experience. He can be heard in in WTOP's traffic center and on the Sports Desk and his byline is on as a web writer/editor and sports columnist.

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