Returning to CTA: What our riders should know
As Chicago moves to Phase 3 of the “Protecting Chicago” framework, more riders are getting ready to return to the CTA. CTA has been here throughout the pandemic, and will continue to provide the service customers have relied on for the past two months.
As CTA has done since day one of the pandemic, we will work tirelessly to provide the healthiest, most comfortable environment for customers.
But we will also look to our customers to be partners in this effort. We ask riders to continue the practices they have been following for the last two months: social distancing, wearing masks, washing/sanitizing hands, not boarding crowded trains and buses, and being mindful and respectful of fellow customers. The lessons riders have learned over the last two months are still very important to follow.
CTA has employed myriad strategies to provide the highest level of service and the cleanest, most comfortable possible environment for customers. Among the many steps we’ve taken:
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
We're here for your essential travel
For the last two months, CTA has been focusing our service on moving essential workers (e.g. healthcare workers, senior-care professionals, emergency personnel and first responders, grocery store workers, etc.) , and those needing to make essential trips (MD appointments, picking up prescriptions, etc.)
While Phase 3 provides more opportunity for travel, CTA still encourages riders to be thoughtful about travel choices. We are all in this together, and CTA needs to remain a safe and reliable option for our essential workers, essential needs and riders with limited travel options. CTA encourages riders to consider other transportation options for non-essential travel, especially shorter distances, and for travel that is easily accessible by other mobility options.
WHAT TO KNOW WHEN YOU RIDE:
Social distancing and cleaning
We are committed to providing the cleanest, most comfortable environment possible for all our riders, and we’ve employed multiple strategies to protect passengers and operators during this time. Similar to others in the transportation industry, such as airlines and other transit providers, CTA’s unique and complex operations require specific guidance and rely on riders to be partners in this work.
CTA is also focused on educating and encouraging all riders to contribute to a healthy environment and to comply with the guidance from health experts about wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing.
Promoting social distancing
CTA in conjunction with the Chicago Department of Public Health established a passenger capacity limit on buses and train cars that will allow social distancing to continue in a reasonable manner on CTA service. After reviewing vehicle layouts and with all passengers wearing masks, doors continuously opening and closing, limited amount of time passengers spend on vehicles, and encouragement of staggered seating throughout the vehicle, the CTA’s vehicle passenger standards are approximately 15 riders on standard 40-foot buses and approximately 22 riders on 60-foot articulated buses and each train car. Riders are encouraged to follow the capacity limits when riding CTA’s service and make smart choices about how and when to travel.
While CTA will continue to promote and encourage prudent behaviors, there is a level of personal accountability and common-sense behavior that will be required on the part of customers.
We are asking and encouraging our customers to follow the common-sense practices we’ve all learned over the past two-plus months. The same rules that people have learned at grocery stores, food pickup, retail stores and other public spaces also apply to transit.
Along with establishing passenger limits, the CTA is also taking the following steps in partnership with our riders to support social distancing:
- Running as much service as possible continuously through pandemic and all re-opening phases
- Bus Crowding Management –limiting the number of riders on buses
- Adding extra buses to address occasional crowding on routes like the #79 79th and #4 Cottage Grove
- Rear-door boarding
- Signage on all vehicles and stations, to promote social distancing and wearing masks
- Real-time camera crowd monitoring at high-ridership stations. Employees will make announcements, asking customers to spread out or wait for next train when the one at the station is too crowded
- Decals on station floors guiding riders on where to stand and how to keep distance
CTA has one of the most rigorous cleaning regimens of any US transit agency:
- Cleaning BEFORE service: Every rail car and bus is cleaned before it leaves for daily service—this includes wiping down seats, stanchions, grab handles and surfaces with disinfectant, as well as sweeping and trash removal.
- Cleaning WHILE IN service: Workers disinfect the high-touch surfaces of rail cars at all terminals after they finish a run and before they turn around for another run. Workers have also been stationed at the Navy Pier, Jefferson Park, Howard and Midway bus terminals to clean high-touch surfaces of buses serving 30 different routes.
- Routine deep cleans: In addition to the daily cleanings, all vehicles undergo a routine "deep clean", which entails intensive cleanings of the interior surfaces from the top of windows to the floor. Each night of the week, approx. 300 vehicles -- 150 rail cars and 150 buses -- are deep cleaned. As part of this process, crews use a 3-in-1 product that cleans, disinfects and deodorizes all surfaces of the vehicles.
- Electrostatic sprayers for deeper cleans: New eMist devices apply cleaning solution as a mist, providing for more thorough coverage. Machines will supplement our existing deep-cleaning measures and allow us to clean vehicles more efficiently and thoroughly
- Anti-microbial surface coating: Currently testing new products on the interior of our vehicles that prevent certain materials (e.g. bacteria, viruses, liquids, etc.) from sticking to treated surfaces for an extended period of time.
- UV cleaning technology: CTA is also investigating UV light cleaning, currently being pilot tested by New York City.
- Mobile cleaning SWAT teams: Ten 4-5 member mobile teams will be deployed across the system to power wash our stations.
- CleanTeams: Will be deployed at terminals to clean trains once they arrive at the end of the line.
WHAT TO KNOW FOR THE FUTURE
How CTA service evolves in the coming months will be influenced by a number of factors, including direction from city and state leaders, how Chicago workplaces handle employees teleworking versus returning to work, and—most importantly—the guidance of health experts at the local, state and federal levels. We will also work with elected officials and business leaders to align on an economic opening strategy that properly accounts for transportation constraints that exist due to COVID-19, but still enable public transit and other transportation services to safely and effectively meet the needs of its riders.
Whatever that scenario looks like, we will meet the ‘new normal’ with innovation, agile and data-driven service delivery and creative investments in our people and infrastructure to ensure public transportation helps to drive our recovery.