This feature is not new. It has been available at the VVS since before the corona pandemic, or since the fall of 2018. In addition to a community-based approach, the MENTZ journey planner can also integrate and report dynamic and static seating availability. The function to report vehicle loads and share it with other app users is part of Companion 5, the practical MENTZ modular system, and is available as a license extension upon request.
In the VVS mobile app, users can report or request the availability of free seats in menu item “messages”. The app accesses a device’s location services when selecting the route used, making data input much simpler. The VVS can also report issues with elevators and escalators, which makes barrier-free journey planning more reliable and up-to-the-minute accurate.
Since 2017, Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) has been providing passengers in and around Sydney, Australia with real-time information on the availability of seating on its trains, buses and trams. MENTZ’s Pascal Schwarz, project manager for Sydney, provided some technical details on the system: “real-time data from various sources is integrated into the journey planner through a GTFS-R interface. For journeys without real-time data, statistical values are used.” During the pandemic, this kind of data on seating availability is helpful to provide riders with the option to choose another route if trains and buses are full.
The VVS mobile app for Android has over one million downloads. According to its own figures, the VVS transports around 382 million passengers a year on its route network, which stretches approx. 7700 km.