ATA Wants To Get Chicagoans Back On The Bus

11/15/2017, noon | Updated on 11/15/2017, noon
“For the past 70 years, CTA bus service has been and remains a critical component of the City of Chicago’s ...

ATA Wants To Get Chicagoans Back On The Bus

A report released by the Active Transportation Alliance (ATA) on Nov. 6

analyzed the recent drop in bus riderships. The report, Back on the Bus, recommended three ways Chicago could improve bus service and

increase ridership.

“For the past 70 years, CTA bus service has been and remains a critical component of the City of Chicago’s transportation network, providing affordable transit options and connections throughout the region while also

reducing street congestion,” said Jon Kaplan, media representative for the

Chicago Transit Authority.

The report states that bus ridership in Chicago decreased by 5.8 percent from 2015 to 2016. It appears that rail ridership has increased as bus

ridership has declined even though trains reach far fewer neighborhoods than the city buses.

Back on the Bus not only goes into detail about the decrease in bus riders, but also suggests changes that could increase the efficiency and

appeal of riding the bus.

The Active Transportation Alliance surveyed over 2,100 bus riders through online surveys and in-person interviews to see what exactly

needs to happen to make the bus a better transportation option.

It appears that most respondents were regular bus riders, 35 percent reported taking the bus four or more days a week. The most common

trips reported were work commutes, shopping, and entertainment.

“Overwhelmingly, riders said speed, frequency, and reliability were the principal factors in determining whether they ride the bus,” according to Back on the Bus.

With these three factors being the most important to riders the report names three specific ways to immediately improve the bus system.

First, creating dedicated bus lanes. Having bus lanes, even just during peak hours, could dramatically improve the buses ability to stay on


Normally, a bus lane could be easily created by removing street parking or converting a general lane to bus-only. For Chicago, it is complicated because the city’s parking meter lease agreement states that if metered parking is removed, the city has to pay the vendor for the lost revenue or move the meters to another location.

“As for dedicated bus lanes, they can certainly provide faster, more reliable commutes. The creation of priority bus streets/lanes is a large

capital investment that requires a great deal of planning and coordination, and is something we continue to investigate and consider as part of larger

planning efforts with Chicago Department of Transportation,” said Kaplan.

“Transit Signal Priority (TSP) systems have been implemented on two of the city’s most well traveled streets – Ashland and Western – as well as at seven intersections along #J14 Jeffery Jump. We are currently looking

to expand TSP to other areas throughout the city,” said Kaplan.

Unfortunately, most traffic signals in Chicago are decades old

and would need to be replaced before TSP can be added. This is

an area of the improvement plan that currently lacks the necessary funding, according to the report.

The third improvement that was recommended is faster boarding. The ATA has proposed allowing riders to pre-pay their bus fair and enter through the front and back doors to expedite the process.

“We’ve already piloted or implemented projects that align with many of the suggestions made in this report,” said Kaplan The CTA is already testing the effectiveness of pre-paid boarding at the Belmont Blue Line, Belmont/Inner Lake Shore Drive and at the 69th Street Red Line station, according to Kaplan.

The ATA will continue to work toward making improvements to the bus system and increasing ridership in Chicago.

For more information and to view Back on the Bus visit www.activetrans.org.