CTA Launches New Ridership Information Dashboard, Customer Awareness Campaign

June 15, 2020
New service planning tool and signs/stickers aimed at helping customers travel smarter and more safely


As the City of Chicago and State of Illinois continue to gradually re-open, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is introducing a new Ridership Information Dashboard to help customers better plan their transit trips to avoid traveling during heavy ridership periods. New signs and stickers in both English and Spanish will encourage the continued use of masks/face coverings and social distancing measures while traveling. 

“As Chicagoans return to work and discover their ‘new normal,’ we welcome them back and encourage them to stay safe by planning ahead using the new dashboard tool and to continue to follow the new habits we’ve all embraced over the past three months,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr.

The first component of the dashboard, available at transitchicago.com, is a bus crowding report, which provides an overview of available capacity for each of CTA’s 127 bus routes. This tool will include information on ridership trends by route and time of day, enabling customers to adjust their trips to less crowded times, when it is possible for them to do so.

“Social distancing is an important component of healthy travel on public transportation. And it is my goal is to put as much information as possible into the hands of our customers, so that they can make informed travel decisions that help us all achieve proper social distancing,” Carter added. CTA is the largest U.S. transit agency to unveil this kind of customer tool.

The CTA, in coordination with the Chicago Department of Public Health, has set capacity limits for buses and trains: 15 passengers on a standard 40-foot bus, and 22 passengers on a 60-foot articulated bus and each railcar.

The report uses a color-coding system (Green, Yellow and Orange) to depict possible space availability for each bus route by hour based on the average, historic ridership during COVID-19 compared with the established capacity limits. To be updated weekly, the report shows general capacity levels, based on prior two weeks of ridership, for each hour of the day—helping customers determine the best times for their travel, especially customers who may have more flexibility on when to ride, and to help promote social distancing. 

For example, the dashboard will provide insights into the best times to ride for some of CTA’s highest ridership routes, like the #49 Western. Based on historic ridership data, the best times to ride would be before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Or for customers traveling the #22 Clark route, the best times to ride would be before 9 a.m. or after 2 p.m. Customers should note that less-crowded conditions may exist on portions of each route, and the dashboard presents average, historic ridership across the entire route by hour.

CTA is working on a similar crowding report for the rail system, and will launch soon. Longer-term, CTA is working on technology tools that would provide real-time information about capacity levels on buses and trains.

To help guide customers on best practices while traveling on CTA’s buses and trains, new signage and floor decals are being installed throughout the system. This includes circular floor decals throughout the rail system, including platforms, elevators and throughout stationhouses, in both English and Spanish. The decals, spaced six feet apart, serve as guides for how far apart customers should stand to ensure proper social distancing.

Additional signs are being posted in rail stations, aboard vehicles, and in station elevators. For station elevators, a new elevator capacity sign indicates that either two or three individuals are permitted at a time. Signs also encourage customers to wear their masks or face coverings.

This campaign compliments CTA’s ongoing customer education and awareness efforts encouraging the use of masks and social distancing. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CTA has provided customers with information regarding healthier habits and other best practices via its website, social media and digital displays throughout the rail system.

More information on CTA’s efforts throughout the pandemic is available at transitchicago.com/coronavirus.

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