The Rockefeller Foundation renewed its support for Chicago’s efforts to develop a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system through $1 million in additional financial support for research, technical support, project management and community engagement to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).
To date, The Rockefeller Foundation has provided nearly $1.8 million toward the Chicago BRT program for various activities, including:
- Technical assistance of a system network plan and overall coordination.
- Branding and communications.
- Outreach and education to city and community leaders, chambers of commerce, neighborhood groups and the general public.
- Land-use planning around the Western/Ashland corridors.
This support from The Rockefeller Foundation has been able to leverage approximately $80,000 in matching support from the Chicago Community Trust (CCT), direct technical assistance from Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP), and additional support from the Boeing Foundation.
BRT improvements designed to make bus travel more reliable and appealing to customers include: colored pavement markings and enhanced signage clearly delineating the bus lanes; level-boarding and off-board fare collection; signal priority for buses at key intersections; distinct bus shelters at locations served by designated routes; “Next Bus” arrival signs at bus stops and nearby locations; sidewalk improvements; and the installation of protected bicycle lanes.
“Bus Rapid Transit is aimed at improving commutes along some of the most traveled corridors of Chicago,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “In addition to the immediate benefits to CTA customers and all who share the roadway, there is potential for secondary benefits, such as spurring economic growth both downtown and in our neighborhoods.”
The work supported by these grants is jointly managed by the CCT, CDOT and CTA for planning, branding and community outreach projects. Other partners in the work include the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Active Transportation Alliance, the Metropolitan Planning Council, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Metropolis Strategies and the Civic Consulting Alliance.
BRT plans for the Central Loop East-West Transit Corridor includes designated bus-priority lanes on two miles of streets. The corridor would serve Union Station, Ogilvie Transportation Center, the CTA Red and Blue Line subways, Streeterville and Navy Pier. A new, off-street transportation center just south of Union Station is also part of the concept.
The CTA recently installed improvements along Jeffery Boulevard from 103rd Street/Stony Island to Jefferson/Washington to test elements of BRT systems, and continues to work with CDOT to study the feasibility of future BRT projects on Western and Ashland Avenue corridors.