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Traveler figures are more accurate.

De Lijn is introducing an advanced method to count the number of passengers arriving and departing, using counting cameras and a smart AI algorithm. This innovation combines ticket data with accurate counts from 'people counting cameras'. By May 2023, 350 cameras had already been installed on De Lijn vehicles, and by the end of the year, 1.600 buses and trams will be equipped with this technology.

Thanks to this new approach, travelers who do not scan their ticket are also included in the statistics. This allows De Lijn to collect richer and more accurate data about passenger flows, which makes it possible to tailor the network even better to demand. During a press conference, De Lijn gave a demonstration of the new counting method.

Previously, De Lijn determined its passenger numbers based on two sources. First of all, scans of season tickets, physical tickets and cEMV (contactless payments with bank card) were used. In addition, non-scanned tickets, such as mobile tickets and SMS tickets, were assigned to trips and lines according to the distribution of the effective scans of physical tickets. Because not all subscribers scan their tickets, regular research was conducted into scanning behavior. The algorithm used to determine passenger numbers took into account a so-called 'increment factor'.

In November 2022, De Lijn started a trial with 3D counting cameras on 15 vehicles to get a more accurate picture of the occupancy. These cameras, which are up to 95% accurate, register who gets in and out. After the successful trial, De Lijn decided to equip a representative part of its vehicle fleet with this technology, in order to get a more complete picture of passenger numbers. This ensures a good geographical spread and a balanced distribution across different vehicle types, such as city and regional buses, articulated buses and trams.

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The AI ​​algorithm that links the counting data from the cameras to the existing registrations via MOBIB cards and other tickets remains essential for the count. The algorithm takes into account various factors such as the type of vehicle, weather conditions, the type of day (e.g. school day or weekend), the type of trip (peak or off-peak) and even the number of online stop requests. By taking this multitude of factors into account, the new counting method offers a much more accurate and detailed insight into passenger flows.

This technological progress offers De Lijn the opportunity to tailor its services even better to the needs of travelers. “Thanks to this accurate data, we can optimize our network and respond better to demand,” says Ann Schoubs, director general of De Lijn. “This is an important step in our pursuit of more efficient and customer-friendly public transport.”

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Photo: image material De Lijn - A young person shows his digital ticket to the driver

In addition to the improved counting of passenger numbers, the new technology also offers opportunities for better management of public transport. By using real-time data, De Lijn can respond more quickly to changes in passenger patterns and crowds. This can lead to more efficient use of vehicles and a better distribution of capacity across the network.

De Lijn is not the only public transport company that uses AI and counting cameras. Other cities and countries are also experimenting with similar technologies to improve their services. For example, the MTA in New York has implemented similar systems to monitor and optimize the occupancy of subways and buses.

By introducing this new counting method, De Lijn is taking an important step towards a future in which public transport is increasingly driven by data and technology. This not only enables more efficient operations, but also increases customer satisfaction through better tailored services and a smoother travel experience.

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