CHICAGO (CBS) — The CTA is launching a new online tool to help riders know when buses are too crowded to maintain proper social distancing, as more people start going back to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monday morning, the CTA introduced its new Ridership Information Dashboard, a color-coded guide that shows how crowded bus routes are during certain times of day — green means low ridership, yellow means some seats available, and orange means not enough seats might be available to maintain a safe distance from other passengers.
The tool comes about two weeks after the city entered Phase 3 of reopening, with more businesses now able to open during the pandemic, meaning more people riding public transportation.
The guide is based on average ridership over the past two weeks for all 127 bus routes, by hour, and will be updated weekly, according to the CTA. The agency is working on tools to provide real-time crowding information on a long-term basis. The CTA also plans to soon unveil a similar tool for trains.
For most bus routes that see overcrowding, it has been during midday and the evening rush.
The CTA has recommended a limit of no more than 15 passengers on its standard 40-foot buses, and 22 passengers on its 60-foot articulated buses. Drivers also are allowing passengers to board from the rear door to limit contact between riders and drivers, which has meant most bus rides are free, because most buses do not have farecard readers at the rear door.
When buses are too crowded, the CTA is asking riders to wait for the next bus.
In addition to the new ridership dashboard, the CTA said it is installing new signs and stickers at CTA train stations, encouraging passengers to wear face coverings, and marking six-foot distances to help riders maintain proper distancing.