CTA to Launch Faster Bus Boarding Pilot on #77 Belmont Bus Route

June 1, 2016

Prepaid CTA bus boarding at Belmont Blue Line station will serve westbound #77 Belmont buses and increase speed and efficiency at popular transfer stop

As part of CTA’s continuing efforts to improve service and reliability for customers, the CTA is launching a six-month pilot to test prepaid bus boarding at the popular bus transfer stop at Belmont Blue Line station to make it quicker and easier to board CTA buses.

Beginning on June 6, customers will no longer have to wait to pay fares as they board westbound #77 Belmont buses during evening rush periods (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.). Instead, they will be able to prepay their fares in a designated area, allowing them to enter buses more quickly and increasing the speed and efficiency of bus boarding on one of CTA’s busiest bus routes.

“Mayor Emanuel and I are always looking for ways to improve service for CTA customers and this new pilot will allow us to receive valuable feedback on the potential benefits of prepaid boarding on CTA,” said CTA President Dorval Carter. “With this pilot, customers pay fares in advance and board buses much like they do boarding the ‘L’ – which get customers to their destinations more efficiently and reduce delays that occur during busy rush periods.”

Current boarding times during evening peak periods can take as long as 5 minutes due to heavy ridership. With buses operating every 4 to 5 minutes during the evening rush period, slow customer boarding can result in slower service and “bus bunching” that can lead to delays along the route.

Prepaid boarding is expected to provide customers with faster boarding and reduce bus delays that occur from the high volume of customers. The pilot will help provide valuable feedback on prepaid boarding, which the CTA will look to expand pending the results of the Belmont pilot.

During the period in which prepaid boarding is in effect, customers traveling west on the #77 will be required to tap their Ventra card/ticket or personal credit/debit card at a Ventra fare reader to enter the prepaid boarding area prior to boarding the bus. Customers who need to add transit value or unlimited ride passes to their Ventra account can easily purchase fares at a vending machine just outside the designated boarding area or anytime via the Ventra app.

The boarding area for customers who have prepaid their fares will be defined by temporary fencing and will provide weather protection. The area will also be staffed by designated CTA employees, similar to train stations, to assist customers.

The prepaid bus boarding pilot follows a number of bus service improvements that Mayor Emanuel and CTA President Carter have implemented for customers including:

  • Reinstatement of Ashland and Western Express routes
  • Launch of Loop Link
  • Announcement of improvements to bus service on the South and Far South sides
  • Announcement of #11 and #31 bus pilots

The Belmont Blue Line stop is one of CTA’s busiest bus and rail connections, serving the #77 Belmont and #82 Kimball-Homan bus routes and providing key bus and rail transfers for customers. More than 7 million rides were taken on the #77 last year.

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