A lot has happened with public transportation since school started. Students all over the city started off the school year with free rides. However, at Hancock there is an issue with overcrowding in the 165 bus, which runs west on 65th Street during rush hour and on 63rd Street after school--even with CTA’s capacity increase. Overcrowding has led to students being left behind at bus stops at Midway’s Orange Line and on Cicero Avenue as well as and longer waiting times.
Destiny Viramontes takes the 63rd bus after school and says, “The buses after school are always packed, and the wait for the next bus drags to get there.”
According to a chart by the article “Which CTA bus lines are still seeing crowding during the pandemic?” by Courtney Cobbs, the 63rd bus starts getting crowded from 1-5 pm. This chart was made before students entered schools, meaning that the bus was crowded even before Hancock students entered school.
Now the 63rd bus has no capacity due to the amount of students getting after dismissal. The Cicero bus and the 65th had “some ridership/ limited seating and space available” during this time according to the “Bus Crowding Report.” But on the 63rd bus, due to the students at Hancock, they are getting crowded to “High ridership,” according to the chart.
The Signature asked CTA bus drivers for an interview about their thoughts on the crowded buses but they declined the interview. According to Mary Wisniewski’s article “COVID-19 is permanently changing Chicago’s Transit,” she interviewed CTA President Dorval Carter and he said, “Riders are responsible for their own safety”.
CTA provides masks and tells riders to spread out as much as possible, while also allowing riders to see how crowded the buses get on their app. While precautions are being taken in order to prevent the spread, “CTA has added busses to create more capacity, it isn’t easy to predict,” said CTA President Dorval Carter.
In the article, “CPS parents question safety for students taking CTA if schools open this fall,” Parents at a CPS school meeting were concerned whether it would be safe for kids to get on CTA transit and were scared of what could happen. Then CPS CEO Janice Jackson said, “Of course, every time you enter a bus you are taking a risk,” she said. “We can’t control what happens on a CTA bus, the same way we can’t control what’s happening in each individual person’s home.”
Chicago Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said in the article said the health department has been working closely with the CTA to make sure people wear masks and practice social distancing while on public transit. At the end of the meeting they did a poll on how comfortable the parents felt about their children traveling on CTA buses. ”The poll showed 40% were completely uncomfortable with the plan, with another 25% being somewhat uncomfortable.”
“CTA is monitoring the increase in passenger traffic usage and ultimately adding more buses,” according to Hancock LSC October 7 meeting minutes.
The 63rd bus going to the Orange Line is always crowded after school, causing students to squeeze into a tight bus. Photo: Isaiah Lara
Update 10.29.2021: CTA informed the Hancock administration about changes made to the #63-West bus route in late August to better align with our dismissal time. An additional bus was added to the #63 West bus route to help more students get on the bus after school. After analyzing the ridership data, CTA has decided to add another trip bus to the#165-West route. This new bus will be waiting outside at dismissal on West 65th/Linder to help with the overcrowding. The change went into effect on Monday, October 25, 2021.
To access both the #63 and #165 bus schedules and review the best time to be at the bus stop, please click here.
The Signature accepts student writing, photos, and art for publication. Contact Mr. Salazar, the journalism teacher, in room 316 during AC Lab or by email at rsalazar at cps dot edu.
Responses to the Signature can also be emailed to Mr. Salazar and may be included in future issues.