CTA testing pre-paid boarding on #77 Belmont bus

The CTA last week launched a six-month pilot to test prepaid bus boarding on westbound #77 Belmont buses at the Belmont Blue Line station.

CTA riders now prepay their fares in a designated area during evening rush periods (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.), allowing them to enter buses more quickly and increasing the speed and efficiency of bus boarding on one of CTA’s busiest bus routes.

Prepaid boarding is expected to provide customers with faster boarding and reduce bus bunching.

During the pilot test period, customers traveling west on the #77 will be required to tap their Ventra card/ticket or personal credit/debit card at a Ventra fare reader to enter the prepaid boarding area prior to boarding the bus.


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  • Reduce Bus Bunching? SERIOUSLY????

    That's the same old story with the same ending. When the Bustracker started, that too was going to reduce 'bus bunching ' but so far, that too has once again failed the Riders & the City of Chicago.

  • In reply to ApresSki:

    People on chitransit.org who live in the area say it is not working because (a) too much of Belmont is one lane and congested (b) CTA is finally putting new buses there, but somehow they don't show up on BusTracker, including the supervisors' version, and (c) there are long lines but it takes too many supervisors to keep it under control and fare jumpers out.

    OnApresSki point, computerized dispatch was also supposed to be a cure, but it isn't if the buses don't show up on it, and, again, there is the question if there can be any cure on Belmont, especially if they don't run articulated buses on it.

    This was tried and failed at 69th, too, and I figure the only way it works is something like at Harvard Square, where the bus terminal is in the paid area of the subway.

  • In reply to jack:

    I ran into this on Saturday evening around 7 PM, getting a 77 at Sheridan after taking the 146 from Michigan Ave. While coming up LSD, Bus Tracker said 27 minutes to next bus, checked other direction, that same bus was in 2 minutes, said it had a dwell at St Joe's of 15 minutes. I pulled up the map and it showed a total of 5 buses on the entire route. I figured there had to be some ghosts. Sure enough, got off the 146 and there was a 77 waiting to turn from Sheridan to Belmont. Luckily there were others boarding, gave me time to hustle to the stop. It was one of the brand new buses.

  • In reply to jack:

    I guess they are not installing this equipment on the new buses when they receive them. Strange.

  • In reply to ApresSki:

    Bus bunching is a part of a transit system that is as good as CHICAGO's transit system. Go to LA, Detroit, Miami or use the Pace suburban system. There is no bus bunching because the buses come EVERY 60 MINS. The CTA runs buses every 7-15 mins. Now look at traffic, wheel chairs, old folks that take forever to sit down. ( Driver can't drive off because they will fall) Strollers, little kids, construction etc etc etc. Chicago transit riders are spoiled and complain about bus bunching. Go to another city and see what im talking about. You would be so lucky to have bus bunching. Chicago riders are spoiled ungreatful and just plain rude. Stop crying chicago has one of the best transit systems in the US PERIOD. Despite being the 2nd largest in the US!!!!!!! Put it this way you are so spoiled that if you see 2 buses come at once or you have to wait 15 mins for a bus you are beside yourself! Think about that.

  • Another thing I've seen CTA try was boarding at the rear door. Happened at Belmont Red Line to westbound 77. CTA person with a portable reader (like they sometimes have out at Addison after games) letting people board.

  • This won't work. If people would have their fare in THEIR HANDS when they board, and if the Ventra cards would work on the first tap (instead of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, etc.) if would be great to board buses and trains.

  • In reply to mulder42:

    Well Mulder, I think this actually *could* work because the bus wouldn't be at the stop (presumably), giving people time to get their cards out and tap tap tap.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    But the real problem with paying the fare is that Ventra is a failure.
    The fact that it often takes multiple taps cause major backups.
    Another problem are those that pay with cash, they also take a long time.
    I've said before, the cash fare should be at least $4 & the same for those ridiculous giant strollers!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Exactly this, SL. I HATE Ventra. People don't have the cash in their hands, or they don't know how much it is, or some other dumb reason. Why do you have to get on the bus, you know you're going to get on, but then throw down your purse, your gym bag, your tote bag, your backpack, etc., and then have to dig the card and/or money out of it? If you keep your Ventra card in your wallet, why don't you already have it out of the wallet when you board? It's not rocket science, people--have the card or the money in your hand when you get on board.

  • In reply to mulder42:

    You don't even need to take it out of the wallet in many cases, as the card reader can read the card through the wallet, as long as you don't have a bank card that also uses RFID technology.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I thought they were disallowing onboard cash fares for the purpose of this test.

  • I board the Kimball bus at that station every day.

    The real problem with the 77 has nothing to do with boarding at that stop. Practically every other day I see 2 (often 3) westbound 77s entering the lot at the same time; bunched before they were there. The buses will then actually exit as a pack - deliberately blocking the northbound Kimball traffic for each other (occasionally several intersection light cycles at a time), blowing through red lights to turn left back onto Belmont, and keeping the bunch intact as the route resumes.

    Frustrating for 77 passengers but also causes problems for 82 passengers (forces bunching on the 82 northbound) and drivers anywhere near this intersection, which is bad enough with the pedestrian traffic, proximity to the expressway, and poorly timed left turn lights.

    I'd like to see a change made to the way 77 drivers enter and exit the station.

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