By Edward Madden – Pace Suburban Bus
The Covid-19 pandemic has been very challenging for all of us and public transportation was hit particularly hard. In Spring 2020, Pace’s ridership dropped to as low as 30% of 2019 levels and many of our fixed routes were either reduced or suspended entirely. Additionally, ridership on ADA paratransit was similarly impacted.
During this time, Pace took significant measures to provide a safe, clean, affordable, and reliable public transit experience for all riders but especially for our essential workers who were staffing our hospitals, grocery stores, and other critical services.
As our economy is now reopening, many previous riders who have been telecommuting for more than a year are now returning to public transportation. To meet this increased demand, we are reintroducing several previously suspended routes and reinstating full service on other routes that had been reduced. Pace also reinstated service on the Schaumburg Trolley and Ravinia Festival Direct plus the Naperville-Aurora On Demand service has been expanded.
Service is also being restored on 26 routes that support students returning to schools. Passenger notices with updated schedules are available at School Service Clarification.
Riders in need of transit connections where service has not been restored due to lack of demand and the impacts of the national driver shortage are encouraged to consider Pace’s Vanpool Program.
To keep riders safe, we are deep cleaning and sanitizing our vehicles daily, cleaning high-touch surfaces throughout the day, providing riders with hand sanitizer, and encouraging the use of Ventra cards and other forms of contactless card payment. Plus, riders can now link their Ventra accounts to Apple Pay and Google Pay on their smartphones too!
Also, Pace is continuing our temporary fare waivers for all Taxi Access Program trips, which are only available to RTA-certified ADA Paratransit riders whose trips originate in the City of Chicago.
To assist in welcoming back all lapsed riders, Pace recently launched an education campaign entitled “We’re Ready” which takes a light approach that some of us may be out of practice with our pre-pandemic routines as we return to worksites. The campaign features people preparing to return to their offices but forgetting some important items – like their shoes.
One thing they should not forget, however, is a mask. Masks are still required on public transportation throughout the country for riders and drivers until at least January 2022. Help keep yourself and others safe by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask while onboard a Pace vehicle or at a Pace facility.
Pace continues to evaluate the remaining suspended or reduced routes in terms of increasing commuter demand, evolving Metra schedules, and resource availability. Status updates and a comprehensive list of returning services and those that will remain suspended or reduced are available here. Information for students and parents about fall 2021 service is available here.
And be sure to watch our new commercials promoting the return to Pace ridership:
Read more about Pace’s response to the pandemic at PaceBus.com/Health:
Edward Madden is the Coordinator of Public Outreach for Pace Suburban Bus and one of JJ’s List’s Hop on the Bus to Independence presenters. Among his many communication responsibilities, Ed promotes the numerous transportation services that Pace offers in the 6-county Chicagoland region.