Metrolink launches ‘How Full Is My Train?’ tool to help riders practice physical distancing

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A passengers waits to board a Metrolink train to San Bernardino as other Metrolink trains stand idle at Union Station. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

A passengers waits to board a Metrolink train to San Bernardino as other Metrolink trains stand idle at Union Station. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

Metrolink on Thursday launched an online tool that allows riders to check how crowded trains are before boarding as the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly across California.

The “How Full Is My Train?” page lists train numbers and the percentage of their capacity that is full. If it’s below 30%, it’s labeled as “plenty of room for social distancing.” If more than 30% of the train is full, the app indicates there’s less room for distancing.

A screengrab provided by Metrolink shows the “How Full Is My Train?” digital tool.
A screengrab provided by Metrolink shows the “How Full Is My Train?” digital tool.

“Users will be able to view average train ridership before boarding. If their travel plans are flexible, they may choose to take a train that usually has fewer people on it,” Metrolink officials said. “In many cases, riders will be able to simply move to other cars if one car appears crowded.”

Riders are required to wear face coverings while on platforms and on trains.

As of Friday, all trains listed appeared to be operating at less than 10% capacity.

The company said it has stepped up cleanings, installed hand sanitizer stations on each train car and ensured conductors have a supply of masks for riders who have forgotten their face coverings.

Ridership aboard the Metrolink trains plummeted 80% in March as the spread of the coronavirus prompted officials to shutter schools and businesses.

Metrolink ended up significantly scaling back its train trips, reducing service by 30%, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A survey of more than 11,000 riders, many of whom described themselves as essential workers in the healthcare industry, found that 72% of respondents were concerned about whether they’ll be able to practice social distancing aboard the trains, according to Metrolink.

“We know that safety is top of mind with our customers,” Metrolink’s Board Chair Brian Humphrey said in a written statement. “Safety is foundational at Metrolink – and a shared responsibility… This tool empowers the rider to practice social distancing.”

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