CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Transit Authority on Monday announced plans to allow passengers to board buses through the back door.
The six-month pilot program will initially be limited to two bus routes that connect the South Side with downtown – the J14 Jeffery Jump and the No. 192 University of Chicago Hospitals Express.
Beginning this summer, riders on those two bus routes will be able to swipe their Ventra cards, contactless, credit cards, and bank cards – including mobile devices – at the back door of each bus along those two routes as well as the front. The front door will remain the only option for those paying with cash.
The CTA said allowing bus riders to use both sets of doors has the potential to reduce boarding times by up to 50 percent and to improve the overall customer experience.
The CTA chose the J14 and 192 routes due to their limited and high-volume stops. The J14 bus runs to and from 103rd Street on the Southeast Side north through the South Shore neighborhood, before shooting up Lake Shore Drive to the Loop. The 192 bus runs from 57th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue through the Hyde Park neighborhood, and then north on Lake Shore Drive to Roosevelt Road, Union Station, and the Ogilvie Transportation Center.
The pilot program for rear-door entry is one of a series of improvements being made as part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CTA President Dorval Carter Jr.’s plan to improve speed, reliability, and customer service on buses.
“CTA’s bus system is a vital component of Chicago’s comprehensive, affordable transit network that connects people, jobs and communities,” Carter said in a news release. “We are taking a fresh look at our bus system and operations to look for ways we can make it even better. Initiatives like this help us gain valuable insights that will shape the future of bus service in Chicago.”
Rear entry on buses is commonplace on certain routes in other cities. In New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority allows riders on its Select Bus Service network to board at any door after purchasing a ticket at a kiosk at the bus stop. Many buses on those routes have two rear doors.
Transportation advocates in New York have called for all-door boarding on all MTA buses, but that is not expected to happen until next year, according to published reports.