To find answers to his inquiry, Davis speaks with Jeff Schroeder, a "data jockey" with CTA. "Obviously any decision to change or drop service is driven first by money," notes Davis. "The CTA currently wants to add buses and trains to its highest-traffic lines, but without any additional money, they have to cut something else. And good decisions require clean data. So Jeff has turned about 1,700 CTA buses into hunter-gatherers. They quietly, unobtrusively collect data. On you."
Davis describes the on-board computers, recorders and GPS devices that collect and report data on ridership numbers per stop, direction, and time.
"So money and research are behind these decisions," concludes Davis, "but that's not all. CTA President Forrest Claypool said demographics can be taken into account in some circumstances.'It's certainly a high priority to make sure that our most impoverished areas have quality mass transportation,' he said. 'So we are gonna protect that service at all costs.'"