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The CTA Is Rolling Out A System To Cure Bus-Bunching

By Rachel Cromidas in News on May 12, 2015 9:40PM

Could 2015 be the end of bus-bunching? Not so fast, but transit officials say they've found a partial solution.

It always seems to happen when we're running late—a dreaded, prolonged absence of CTA buses at a busy stop, followed by a series of two, three or more at once. But the phenomenon, known as "bus-bunching," could be at least somewhat fixed by the end of the year, transit officials announced Monday. The CTA has begun rolling out a technology to improve communication between bus drivers and the CTA's Control Center.

The $8.8 million technology, tested on the South Side in January and funded through federal grants, would help the buses run faster and space out more evenly along their routes by streamlining how bus drivers and control center operators file commands. The new system could be particularly helpful during unexpected reroutes caused by fires or police activity.

The system, designed by Clever Devices, the New York company behind the Bus and Train Tracker services, uses GPS systems already installed onboard the buses to track the bus locations in real time, according to a press release.

Promising to provide "more consistent and reliable bus service,"—The white whale of Chicago commuters—officials said in the release that the technology has already demonstrated its ability to reduce "big gaps" in service on two bus routes by nearly 40 percent on average.

But it's still not likely to be the panacea for all our CTA bus woes. Buses "will always be subject to various traffic conditions beyond the CTA's control," the release gently reminds us.

The system will be rolled out to all 1,800 buses by the end of summer.