Today’s Headlines

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  • Jay Broney

    Is there a more incompetent government organization than Metra?

  • CL

    Yes, bus bunching and gaps in service still seem to happen frequently — I’m surprised it’s reported to happen only five percent of the time — maybe it’s just that those times occur during rush hour when I need it. When I can’t drive (like this week) my commute is the 22 bus to Howard, then a transfer to the Purple Line. Sometimes there is just no 22 bus scheduled to arrive for 20 minutes — so I have to be ready early enough to take an early bus if it’s going to be the last one for a while. I also have to account for waiting up to 15 minutes for the purple line (blerg) so the uncertainty means I have to get up earlier and allow lots of extra time just to make sure I’m not late.

    Today, it all worked beautifully, and I got to work 25 minutes early — the travel time was similar to driving. Yesterday, I left at the same time, and I was late for work (Clark bus was delayed for so long I just walked to the red line, then I just missed a purple train). Having something like BRT for the first leg would make a big difference, just knowing that I could count on frequent service. The uncertainty that comes with local bus service is a big deterrent to taking transit.

  • Andrew

    Yesterday evening I was planning to catch a westbound 55 in hyde park. Bus tracker said that 3 buses were scheduled to show up at my stop directly adjacent to one another, followed by a 20 minute wait, when another 2 buses would show up. My stop is less than 20 minutes from the origin of the 55, so the bus tracker was telling me that they planned on sending these two buses out at the same time. I don’t think you can blame traffic jams for this, just CTA incompetence.

  • CL

    I wonder if, when busses are late to arrive at the start of the route, they have to send them as soon as they come, resulting in bunching from the very beginning?

    Sometimes I think they should have busses wait or run express to even out service, but I can see why they don’t (the time it takes people to get off the bus is much greater)

  • SP_Disqus

    I took the Ashland bus from Ashland / Grace down to the Yeezus show in November at the UC. I remember it being a little weird that the schedule had a single 6:15 bus then 3 buses at 6:30. When the buses got to Grace, I realized that the bus driver’s were coordinating with each other as to when they would pick people up at which stop and it seems like this was a planned measure due to the extremely large number of people taking the Ashland bus at rush hour combined with a major concert going on at the UC. It actually worked out perfectly because when the buses were letting people out at the UC, all three were full in the seats but it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded with the entire standing rooms full. Had they not intentionally bunched the buses at the beginning, I have a feeling the distribution of people on the three buses would have been very heavy in the first and light in the third. There are definitely times and places when “bus bunching” is appropriate and I was very pleased with the CTA’s performance that evening. Hopefully, BRT will be added and getting down to the UC for future events will be even easier.

  • Anna Schibrowsky

    This bus unreliability was why I started biking to the train. You should give it a try when the weather gets nicer.

  • I wonder what the numbers would be like if they “weighted” them based on passenger boardings, time of day, etc… It may be as low as 5% but the number of people bunching is impacting could be higher. I feel that bunching happens more often at rush hours when everyone else is out driving too.

  • what_eva

    Rush hour yesterday (Friday night), coming home, I need to get 77
    Belmont west from the Red/Purple/Brown station. Checked bus tracker
    pulling out of Fullerton.


    ended up getting to the street just as the first 3-minute pulled up to a huge
    crowd. The L station is the perfect place for a bus to go express.
    With 3 back to back, it would have made perfect sense to have one go to
    Western or California, one to Damen-ish and the last one all stops.
    That would spread them back out.

    Did CTA do this? Of course
    not. I got on the second bus, avoiding the crowd on the first and all 3
    proceeded to crawl down Belmont making all stops. I’d be shocked if
    the 7 minute one didn’t catch up for a 4 bus bunch.

    Then you have another bunch set for 26 minutes that CTA apparently had no plans to fix. As CL notes, they’re already bunched going eastbound and probably have to turn around immediately because they’re all behind schedule (19 minute gap where it should be 5 minutes in rush hour). CTA should be short turning at least the first one and has an easy spot to do it at Belmont/Halsted (the 156 turnaround). Do they? Of course not.

  • I got out of Belmont at about 5:30 last night too and noticed a crowd of people waiting for the same bus. More than usual.

    And you’re going westbound? The route doesn’t start too far east of there. My guess is that it got bunched at all the traffic that happens between LSD and Halsted on Belmont. I think there should be bus lanes there at least at rush periods. There aren’t many businesses on that stretch of Belmont in the first place.

  • what_eva

    Yeah, I was going westbound. The route starts in front of St Joe’s, by Diversey/Lakeshore, which I think is probably in the 15-20 minute range from the L, so those 26 minute buses were probably still going eastbound.

    A rush hour parking restriction for a bus lane would make a lot of sense, I think there’s only a little bit of metered parking in that stretch as well, right by Broadway. In a perfect non-sold-out-meters world, I’d take the bus lane to Clark. The traffic seems to get better once you get across Clark.

    Oh, the other thing I’d do is put a no-left-turn on Clark westbound. Those cars can turn on Halsted. A lot of the westbound backups at Clark are because there is some dope turning left (who should have turned at Halsted) and someone turning right who has to wait for peds. If the left turners weren’t there, the traffic wouldn’t get so backed up.