CHICAGO — The CTA is starting to have riders board at the back of the bus so people can practice social distancing and drivers can be protected.
Bus drivers will also be able to stop picking up passengers if they think their bus is too full to allow social distancing, according to a Mayor’s Office news release. The moves are being made to help slow the spread of coronavirus in Chicago, where there have already been 6,099 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The changes start Thursday and will be in effect until further notice.
The CTA has already started moving its fare readers to the rear door of buses, though it’ll take several weeks for all of the readers to be moved, according to the Mayor’s Office. On buses where the fare readers haven’t been moved yet, people will not be required to pay.
And the CTA won’t move cash boxes, so people who are using cash to pay on buses will not have to pay for rides, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
Most of the buses don’t have the ability for drivers to open their rear doors, so riders will have to open them manually to board. The CTA will have signs directing riders to board at the back of the bus so riders know about the change, according to the Mayor’s Office.
People who need to use a ramp or who need the bus to kneel will still be able to board at the front door. Those riders will have to signal to drivers.
And if a 40-foot bus has at least 15 riders or a 60-foot bus has at least 22 riders, drivers will be able to refuse to let more people on, though they’ll stop to drop off passengers as normal, according to the Mayor’s Office.
The CTA is also encouraging riders to avoid rush periods — 7-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-6 p.m. — and to allow for extra travel time.
The CTA continues to run so it can provide service to people in need, with Mayor Lori Lightfoot repeatedly saying she has no plans to shut down trains and buses because health care workers and first responders rely on them for travel amidst the pandemic.
But ridership has fallen steeply since the state enacted a stay at home order March 21 and many people moved to working from home or going out less to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19. The South and West sides have seen the highest level of ridership during the order, according to the Mayor’s Office.
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