To help improve the speed and reliability of bus service and to enhance the customer experience, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will launch a pilot that will allow bus riders to board and pay using both the rear and front doors of buses operating along two routes.
The pilot is the latest in a series of improvements being made as part of Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr.’s ongoing commitment to improve the speed, reliability, and customer experience of CTA’s bus service, including investing $20 million in the Bus Priority Zones program over the next few years.
Beginning this summer, bus riders traveling the #J14 and #192 routes will be able to use their Ventra cards, contactless credit cards, and bank cards, including those cards on mobile devices, to board and pay using either the rear or front doors of the bus. Riders paying with cash will continue to board through the front doors.
Allowing riders to use both sets of doors to pay has the potential to reduce boarding times by as much as 50% and improve the overall customer experience, according to the CTA. The two routes were selected for this six-month pilot due to their limited, high-volume stops. Routes with high-volume stops take longer to board passengers, which can create a ripple effect of delays along the entire route.
The initiative complements other recent pilots that allowed CTA riders at high-volume boarding locations to pre-pay their fares before boarding buses. One such pilot was conducted at the Belmont Blue Line station and resulted in the reduction of bus boarding times by more than 50% during the evening commute. That pilot was made permanent as part of the 2019 rehab of the Belmont Blue Line station, which included a dedicated pre-paid bus boarding area.
As with all pilots, CTA personnel will evaluate bus and ridership data, as well as solicit customer feedback along the two routes. Funding for this pilot is a mix of federal grant funds and CTA’s operating budget.