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CTA bus drivers might pass you by if more passengers make social distancing impossible

New CTA guidelines aimed at preventing spread of the coronavirus went into effect Thursday.

A Chicago Transit Authority bus approaches a bus stop to pick up passengers.
The CTA wants most riders to board through the back doors and drivers may now express when a bus gets too crowded.
Sun-Times file

CTA bus passengers are being directed to use the back door and buses won’t stop for more passengers if they become too crowded under measures that took effect Thursday aimed at combating the coronavirus.

Bus passengers are now being directed to get on and off buses using the rear door in order to promote social distancing between riders and drivers, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office announced.

The CTA is in the process of moving fare card readers to the rear doors of buses, but has not completed the work on all of its buses. Passengers will not have to pay fares if there isn’t a fare box by the rear doors.

Cash boxes will not be moved, so passengers using cash will not have to pay fares.

Passengers will have to manually open the rear doors from outside since most CTA buses do not have automatic read doors.

Passengers in wheelchairs and others who need the bus to be lowered in order to board can still use the front door and won’t be required to pay fares.

The CTA will also introduce “bus crowding management” that gives drivers the authority to run as “drop-off only” and bypass certain bus stops if their bus is becoming crowded.

The guidance for drivers on what constitutes “too crowded:” 15 or more passengers on a standard 40-foot bus and 22 or more passengers on a 60-foot articulated bus.

The measures come despite a dramatic slump in bus riders. Ridership was down about 70%, the CTA reported last month.

“In addition to CTA employees and the city’s first responders who rely on public transportation to get to work every day, these new measures will further protect Chicago’s transit customers, particularly those on the South and West sides of Chicago, who represent the highest level of ridership across the system during the stay at home order,” the mayor’s office said.