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The #31 Bus Pilot Is Safe From Cancellation — For Now

Photo: Jeff Zoline

The pilot of restored service on the CTA's #31 31st Street bus route launched in September 2016, and last January the CTA board voted to extend the test until June. Last week Streetsblog reader Cameron Puetz reminded me about the pilot by comparing it to the city of Chicago's limited test of dockless bike-share on the Far South Side. Puetz argued that, with service hours that only run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and don't include weekends, the #31 test, like the DoBi pilot, seems designed to fail. Here's an update on what's going on with the bus test.

Photo: Jeff Zoline
Photo: Jeff Zoline
Photo: Jeff Zoline

Ridership on the #31 route averaged 674 rides each weekday in November 2017. That was 81 percent of the ridership target, and a 23 percent increase over November 2016, according to the CTA. At the May 9, 2018, CTA board meeting, the board voted to extend the #31 pilot until the fall bus service schedule change in September, to allow the CTA to further evaluate ridership and collect more community feedback on the service, according to CTA spokesman Stephen Mayberry. "Extending the #31 pilot through the summer of 2018 allows CTA staffers time to gather further data to evaluate the viability of this bus service." Mayberry added that the CTA is continuing its efforts to promote the #31 service via ads, social media, and more.

So the 31st Street pilot has a new lease on life. But with its limited hours -- which are no help for getting to work or school during the morning rush or doing any sort of weekend trip -- how long will ridership stay at acceptable levels before the CTA pulls the plug on the pilot, as it did with the #11 Lincoln Avenue bus test back in August 2017?

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