STL wins another award for its bus crowdedness estimator

Is transit agency’s second prize this year for initiative

The Société de transport de Laval (STL) was presented on Thursday with the Corporate Leadership Award in the Innovation category for its online tool that enables users to know in advance how crowded buses are.

The ceremony took place during the Canadian Urban Transit Association’s (CUTA) virtual Annual Conference and Transit Show, which ended last Thursday.

“We are very moved by this second recognition for our estimator from our Canadian peers,” said STL president Éric Morasse.

“Put together in a matter of weeks, it was obvious from the early broad strokes a bold idea was taking shape: empowering users, in just a few clicks, with the information they need to make the choices that are right for them. It thoroughly reflects how we see our role at the STL, as transit facilitators for the Laval population.”

It was the second recognition in a month for the crowd estimator, which also earned a Grand prix d’excellence en transport in the Public transit category from the Association québécoise du transport (AQTr) on November 5.

Launched last June, the tool stands out, according to the STL, because it provides riders with an estimate of the number of passengers that should be expected, not only when a user boards, but also during the course of the entire bus trip – which is a first in Canada, the STL says.

With the COVID-19 pandemic having made social distancing in public transit situations a core concern for users, the crowdedness estimator supplies information tailored to individual users, so they can make informed decisions based on the level of bus crowdedness they are comfortable with. (For example, taking an earlier or later bus, getting on or off at a different bus stop, or using another bus route nearby, etc.

STL buses have been equipped with GPS technology and passenger counters for years, which record on a daily basis how many passengers are on the bus at each stop, for each bus route, at each scheduled bus time.

The new tool uses this information to derive the level of bus occupancy at a stop, at a specific time, for the entire length of a commute, based on the averages trending over the previous five business days. The calculations are updated daily. The app is available at, for computer or smartphone.