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The CTA will release weekly bus-crowding reports to help riders avoid congested commutes

The weekly report looks at the past two weeks of ridership data to determine when each bus route is most packed.

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

As Chicago moves further into Phase 3 of its reopening plan, some residents are returning to their daily commutes for the first time in months. The CTA has introduced a slew of new safety measures designed to keep passengers and operators safe, including boarding through the rear door on buses and reducing the capacity of all buses and train cars.

Now that social distancing is the new normal, many people are rightfully weary of returning to buses and trains, which frequently become packed with riders during peak commuting hours. Mayor Lightfoot has encouraged businesses to introduce staggered scheduling, allowing employees to commute during periods that are generally less busy than the morning and evening rush hours. In order to help riders identify periods of time when buses are less crowded, the CTA is introducing a weekly bus-crowding report as part of its new Ridership Information Dashboard.

The PDF (which is viewable on the CTA's website and will be updated weekly) uses the previous two weeks of bus ridership data to denote high ridership, some ridership and low ridership (indicated by orange, yellow and green color coding, respectively) during every hour of the day. Riders can use the information to determine times to commute when ridership is not generally high and avoid having to wait for a less crowded bus to arrive.

The CTA is working on a similar weekly report for its trains and is investing in a long-term project to develop tools that could provide realtime information about the capacity of buses and trains. Someday, your CTA app might not just display when the next train or bus will arrive, but also how close to maximum capacity it is.

In the meantime, a weekly PDF may not be the most convenient way to plot out your bus rides, but consulting it could decrease the time you spend standing at a stop waiting for a bus with space for more passengers to pull up to the curb.

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