The world has changed significantly over the past few weeks, and the CTA is changing with it. This morning, the Chicago Tribune broke the news that the CTA is modifying its procedure for boarding buses to encourage social distancing and protect bus drivers, asking passengers to enter through the rear doors beginning today (Thursday, April 9). Farecard readers are being moved to the rear entrance so that passengers can tap their Ventra cards when boarding, but with nearly 1,800 buses in its fleet, the CTA won't be able to modify every bus immediately. According to a press release, "CTA will not enforce fare payment on buses that do not yet have rear-door farecard readers."
Passengers who need to use a ramp or require the bus to lower in order to board will still be able to use the front door; they'll just need to signal the bus driver. Signs will be posted on the windows of all CTA buses directing passengers to the rear doors, which will need to be opened by hand from the outside as most buses are not equipped with a mechanism that allows drivers to open the rear doors automatically (you might want to wear gloves).
The CTA is also introducing new capacity guidelines for bus operators, giving them the ability to skip stops and run as "drop-off only" if there are 15 or more passengers on a standard bus or 22 or more passengers on an articulated bus (the extra-long kind with the accordion-style connector in the middle).
The new measures shouldn't be interpreted as an invitation for more people to defy the Illinois "stay-at-home" order and begin regularly riding the bus again. "With these new measures, we’re further ensuring the health and safety of not only our most vulnerable residents but also our CTA employees, who are transporting our police officers, firefighters, paramedics and healthcare workers from the frontlines of this fight to their homes," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement.
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