Estimation of left behind subway passengers through archived data and video image processing

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - subway/metro, operations - crowding, operations - performance, ridership - modelling, ridership - demand, technology - passenger information, technology - intelligent transport systems


Public transit, Crowding analysis, Left-behind passengers, Object detection tools, Logistic regression models


Crowding is one of the most common problems for public transportation systems worldwide, and extreme crowding can lead to passengers being left behind when they are unable to board the first arriving bus or train. This paper combines existing data sources with an emerging technology for object detection to estimate the number of passengers that are left behind on subway platforms. The methodology proposed in this study has been developed and applied to the subway in Boston, Massachusetts. Trains are not currently equipped with automated passenger counters, and farecard data is only collected on entry to the system. An analysis of crowding from inferred origin–destination data was used to identify stations with high likelihood of passengers being left behind during peak hours. Results from North Station during afternoon peak hours are presented here. Image processing and object detection software was used to count the number of passengers that were left behind on station platforms from surveillance video feeds. Automatically counted passengers and train operations data were used to develop logistic regression models that were calibrated to manual counts of left behind passengers on a typical weekday with normal operating conditions. The models were validated against manual counts of left behind passengers on a separate day with normal operations. The results show that by fusing passenger counts from video with train operations data, the number of passengers left behind during a day’s rush period can be estimated within 10% of their actual number.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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