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The CTA rolls out a new Ridership Information Dashboard for the ‘L’

Photo: CTA

In June the CTA launched a Ridership Information Dashboard to give customers a heads-up about crowding issues on bus lines, so that they can make an informed decision when planning their commutes during the pandemic. In July Metra followed suit with its own Ridership Dashboard for trains.

Today the CTA announced its Ridership Information Dashboard has been expanded to include crowding data on the 'L'. The dashboard is available at CTA riders can use drop-down menus to see how crowded a bus or train may be, factoring in their preferred travel times, routes or train stations, direction of travel, and schedule.

“Today’s upgrade and expansion of the Ridership Information Dashboard is the latest step in our ongoing efforts to keep our customers better informed and to continuously evolve our operations during this unprecedented time,” said CTA president Dorval R. Carter, Jr. in a statement. “Now more than ever, we need our customers to be our partners in ensuring CTA remains a safe, reliable transit option. Social distancing is a core component to us fighting the spread of the coronavirus and this tool is one of many measures we’re implementing to provide a safe and healthy travel environment for everyone.”

The new rail ridership dashboard provides the average 'L' car crowding levels at each station along a given line. Riders can customize their search by station origin and destination, hour, direction and schedule type (weekday, Saturday or Sunday/holiday). Customers can either tap or click on their station for more detailed information, or just look at the number of “people” icons filled in.

Screen Shot 2020-09-10 at 8.50.07 PM
Crowding on an inbound Green Line train leaving from 63rd/Ashland at 8 a.m.

For example, during the 8 a.m. hour on weekdays, inbound Pink Line trains are typically reaching 25-50 percent seated capacity (i.e. 10-20 seats occupied out 40 per rail car) by the time a train departs the California station, which is shown with two filled-in people icons.

The existing Bus Crowding Dashboard has also been upgraded with a new interface with drop-down menus for easier trip planning. To see crowding conditions on buses, riders need to select the direction of travel of their preferred bus route and the schedule type (weekday, Saturday, Sunday). Results are then displayed by the hour using a color-coded system (Blue: Seats and space available; Yellow: Limited seats and space available; Red: Seats and space may not be available).

Crowding info for weekday southbound Clark Street buses.
Crowding info for weekday southbound Clark Street buses.

Both dashboards will be updated weekly with fresh data, showing the latest ridership trend based on a two-week rolling average. The transit agency says crowding by bus route and rail car should be viewed within in context of the established COVID-19 vehicle maximum passenger capacity limits: 15 passengers on a standard 40-foot bus, and 22 passengers on a 60-foot accordion bus and each rail car. Passengers should also note that less-crowded conditions may exist on portions of each bus route or may vary by rail car, and the dashboard presents the two-week rolling average of ridership by the hour.

The CTA says it is continuing to work on longer-term technology that would provide real-time information about capacity levels on buses and trains.

In the meantime, it's somewhat reassuring to know you can check out the ridership dashboard to get advanced warning on whether a given bus or train run may be crowded, and plan accordingly.

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