Chicago Sun-Times

Late Buses and Bus Tracker

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Yesterday, I saw bunches of miserable and dripping-wet kids, standing in the rain, waiting over 25 minutes for an eastbound Addison bus to take them to high school. When the bus came, it was too full to board. There were over two dozen teenagers just at the Blue Line stop, peering hopefully down the street. Lane Tech and Gordon Tech high schools reported numerous tardies. Lane has seen a lot of tardies all week. The story is here. The CTA explained that there was a disabled bus at Harlem. The CTA also noted that the first week of school is a time of adjustment for everyone.

I had a couple of questions about this, beyond what was in the story. One was -- don't any of these kids have umbrellas, or is that not cool enough for high school? The second question is , "What if before they had left the house they had gotten on the computer and used the CTA's highly touted "Bus Tracker" program? Would that have saved them some waiting time?" I suspect its usefulness in this instance would be limited -- Bus Tracker tells when the next bus is coming, approximately, but not how full the bus is.

Readers -- has anyone out there used Bus Tracker, and does it help you wait inside where it's dry?

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I'm not sure which is more preposterous for a high schooler; planning ahead by checking the route or carrying an umbrella. I'm guessing the umbrella. Planning ahead could be done out of sight and a decision on the coolness of it be avoided. An umbrella however, is a lightning rod for criticism and maybe even lightning too! I bet you're gonna suggest hats (and socks) when it gets cold too. Let's face it, school is like Olympic gymnastics; once your 19, you're really, really old and out of touch.

It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of these kids don't have easy internet access at home. Yes, I would imagine that umbrellas are probably not cool when you're a high school kid. And they're just another thing to carry around.

I use bus tracker frequently. One of the things I've noticed on the 80 route is that frequently a bus will show up that is not being tracked. I take the 80 to and from the blue line every day. I would say I experience this at least a couple of times a week. So even if Bus Tracker says the next bus is in 25 minutes, occasionally, I take a chance. I've seen this a few times with the 49 route but much more frequently with the 80 route. It wouldn't surprise me if this happens on the Addison route as well.

Also, sometimes you think you'll be able to get to a bus in time and as you get there, you watch it go by thus maximizing the wait for the next bus. One other thing to point out, these kids may be getting to that bus stop from another bus route, like 49. Planning bus connections gets difficult.

I love Bus Tracker. I have found it really helpful but nothing makes a 25 minute wait a happy experience. Especially when the weather is bad.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Wisniewski published on September 5, 2008 9:11 AM.

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