CTA passengers can now see how crowded trains are before boarding to allow for social distancing measures recommended to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
The agency said Thursday it has added rail information to its online ridership dashboard, introduced in June for bus routes to allow passengers to avoid crowded buses.
The CTA has seen a slight uptick in passengers on trains and buses since the state entered phase four of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-phase reopening plan in June, spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said Thursday. Still, ridership has been down by about 70% since the start of the pandemic, she said.
The rail dashboard provides a range for the average number of seats filled at each station, with an icon depicting three people to show typical crowding levels along each route.
When there is a high level of ridership at a station — defined as 20 seats or more taken — all three icons are filled in. For lower levels of ridership, one of the three icons are filled in, indicating up to 10 seats are occupied per rail car. And for medium levels of ridership, two of the three icons are filled in, indicating between 10 and 20 seats per car are occupied.
Though the CTA set a 22 passenger limit in each rail car in light of the pandemic, enforcement has been difficult, Hosinski said.
“On rail it’s a lot harder to enforce capacity because you don’t have personnel in each rail car. That’s the overall guidance we are providing riders. When you start seeing (seats taken) in the range of 22, consider waiting because we are now at what we consider at capacity,” Hosinski said.
The tool does not show real-time information, but the CTA is working to provide it, Hosinski said. Both the bus and rail dashboards are based on the average ridership over the prior two weeks, CTA said.
The bus dashboard uses colors to show each route with times of the day marked with blue, yellow and red to show estimated levels of ridership. Blue indicates there are seats available, yellow means seating is limited and red shows the bus may be full.
Since the start of the pandemic, the CTA has worked with the Chicago Department of Public Health to set capacity limits for passengers sitting and standing on buses and trains. For a standard 40-foot bus, 15passengers is the maximum capacity, and 22 passengers is the maximum for a 60-foot articulated bus.
The transit agency said it is running as much service possible and adding longer trains and buses on some lines and routes to ensure adequate space for passengers.
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