The CTA is stepping up its efforts to alleviate bus bunching with the introduction of a new real-time monitoring and communications systems.
With the Bus Transit Management System (BTMS), buses should be able to more quickly adapt to changing traffic and street conditions, and help avoid bus bunching that leads to long waits between buses.
Through touch-screen terminals on every CTA bus, BTMS allows for improved two-way communication between drivers and the CTA’s command center, which monitors all bus and train operations throughout the service region.
The system enables the command center to better track the location and movement of buses, and quickly convey route or speed changes to operators in order to ensure proper spreading of buses and adherence to schedule when possible. If personnel in the center detect conditions that could lead to a service delay or bus bunching—more than one bus arriving at a stop at or near the same time—they can instruct the driver to adjust the route accordingly. Further, if the command center needs to send a message to multiple buses about a reroute due to police or fire activity, it can be done instantaneously.
The CTA tested the system at two South Side CTA garages earlier this year. That testing showed significant improvement to bus service. Since January 2015, bus “big gaps”— defined as larger-than-scheduled periods of time between buses — on nine of the busiest South Side bus routes have dropped an average of nearly 40 percent.
This is good news, since bunching has perennially been a big problem at the CTA. In 2014, the CTA's own performance metrics show that it did not meet standards on "big gap intervals" in 10 of the 12 months. And it didn't meet "bunched intervals" standards in eight of 12 months.
Read a previous CTA Tattler story about "mysterious phenomenon of bus bunching."
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