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May 11, 2021

SEPTA launches Seat Availability Dashboard

Riders will see each stop on a trip categorized by how likely it is they will receive a seat

Transportation SEPTA
SEPTA seat availability Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

SEPTA launched a new service that shows how full its buses (and soon to be subway cars) are throughout the city at a given moment.

Commuters will soon be able to look ahead at seat availability on SEPTA services throughout the city via the transit authority's new Estimated Seat Availability Dashboard.

The dashboard is up and running on SEPTA's website and shows information for most bus routes, though it will later expand to cover all SEPTA's modes of travel, including the Market-Frankford Line and Broad Street Line.

"For the first time ever, SEPTA customers can get a virtual look inside of their bus while they are planning a trip with the Estimated Seat Availability Dashboard," said SEPTA General Manager Leslie S. Richards. "SEPTA is committed to enhancing the interactive tools available for customers, and today’s launch is a major step forward."

Riders will see each stop on a trip categorized under "many seats available: expect that you can easily find a seat," "some seats available: expect that you may have to search for a seat" or "standing room only: expect that all seats are taken." When there are no estimates available, there will be grey markers that say "no estimate."

These estimates are not a live report of current seating conditions, according to SEPTA. 

Instead, they will collect ridership information through automatic passenger counters and assessments by SEPTA employees and traffic checkers. It will continually monitor the number of riders to keep the seating estimates up to date.

"Estimated seat availability is based on recent observed conditions from the previous two weeks. We process it and fill in some gaps where data is unavailable," the service's new website states.

While there are capacity limits on vehicles, they are expected to rise soon as the vaccination rates increase and case numbers decrease across the city.

SEPTA said it plans to incorporate the seat availability data into its Official SEPTA App later this year.

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