The Chicago Transit Authority introduced Tuesday it’s going to start offering free, disposable face masks to riders on a trial foundation.
Dispensers will initially be put in on 200 buses, serving 20 routes. Excessive-ridership routes together with the No. 56 Milwaukee, No. 91 Austin and No. 77 Belmont have been amongst these chosen for the pilot.
The primary group of dispenser-equipped buses rolled out on Tuesday, with the complete complement of 200 buses anticipated to be outfitted inside the subsequent week or two, based on a CTA spokeswoman.
“That is nice information for essential workers who have been riding transit all through the pandemic and the operators retaining it transferring,” stated Kyle Whitehead of Lively Trans. “Each teams are disproportionately Black and Brown and plenty of dwell within the communities hit hardest by COVID-19. It can assist restore consolation and confidence as riders proceed to return to transit in the course of the restoration.”
The pilot will assess demand for masks and the logistics of replenishing the provision on buses, a few of which stay in service all day with out returning to a depot. Restocking within the occasion of excessive demand is prone to be the largest hurdle, the spokeswoman stated, and there’s the potential for a rider to board one of many 200 buses solely to seek out an empty dispenser. That’s the kind of kink the pilot was designed to handle, she stated.
If the trial is a hit, this system will broaden to all 129 bus routes, in addition to to rail stations, based on the CTA.
“This new pilot program displays our unwavering dedication to hunt out new instruments and concepts to assist maintain everybody wholesome throughout this ongoing pandemic,” CTA President Dorval Carter stated in a press release.
Ridership throughout the transit system has plummeted in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Based on the most recent CTA report, which supplies knowledge by way of September, bus ridership is down 45% for the 12 months and rail ridership is down 62%. Downtown’s bus routes, subway and Loop stations have seen ridership decreases in extra of 80%.
The company has carried out a variety of well being and security measures in the course of the pandemic, comparable to the usage of electrostatic sprayers for cleansing. Because the summer season, the CTA has additionally distributed greater than 19,000 free “Journey Wholesome” kits, which embrace a reusable fabric masks, hand sanitizer and wholesome journey suggestions. That program is continuous, with further giveaways deliberate in early 2021.