Chicago advances BRT plans

Posted on April 19, 2013

Chicago officials announced plans to develop a vision for faster and more reliable transit in Chicago, which will include studying center-running bus rapid transit (BRT) on a 16-mile stretch of Ashland Avenue between 95th Street and Irving Park Road.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will also begin working with local stakeholders on developing a plan that would create faster, more reliable bus service by increasing bus speeds by more than 80% during peak travel times and create economic benefits for business and residents along the entire corridor.

The announcement is based on a year-long assessment of various BRT alternatives along Ashland and Western avenues. Through the results of this analysis, CTA and CDOT will prioritize BRT for Ashland Avenue to meet the needs of bus riders in this corridor, which has the highest ridership on CTA’s bus system and connects to seven CTA “L” stations, two Metra stations and 37 bus routes.

According to the proposed design, a dedicated center bus lane in each direction would have limited stops — every half-mile and at CTA stations as well as traffic-signal priority at intersections. New amenity-filled bus-boarding stations with enhanced, landscaped medians between stations will benefit bus riders, as well as area residents and businesses.

The vision to redesign streets to make transit more efficient includes bus-only lanes, transit signal priority and balancing the needs for all users, including autos. This vision maximizes street potential, enhances the pedestrian environment and represents the highest BRT standard.

In addition to faster travel, proposed BRT on Ashland will:

  • Save about 8 minutes per trip based on the current average trip length on the #9 Ashland bus of 2.5 miles.
  • Preserve approximately 90% of parking on both sides of the street.
  • Enhance streetscapes with more than 75 blocks of new streetscaping, including medians, better lighting, wider sidewalks and more greenery.
  • Allow the potential for pre-payment for faster boarding, similar to CTA "L" stations.
  • Preserve approximately 95% of loading zones for delivery trucks.

While BRT analysis and design efforts will continue in 2013 for 16 miles of Ashland Avenue from Irving Park Road to 95th Street, implementation would be phased and the first phase is being designed for the central area from Cortland Ave. (1800 N) to 31st Street.

Preliminary estimates show that BRT can be implemented for approximately $10 million per mile. Planning and design analysis to this point have been funded by FTA grants, which were supported by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and other members of the Illinois congressional delegation.

RELATED ARTICLE: Check out, "Chicago Gets Jump on BRT."

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