The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), along with 1st Ward Alderman Daniel La Spata, announced the completion of work to further improve and make permanent the Chicago Avenue “Pop-up Essential” bus-only lanes introduced by Mayor Lightfoot in 2020, according to CTA's news release.
Initially implemented to help prioritize bus services for essential workers and other transit riders during the pandemic, the conversion of these traffic lanes to 24-hour dedicated bus lanes has proven beneficial and are now permanent.
“The completion of this full-time, dedicated bus lane on Chicago Avenue is part of our citywide commitment to ensure all of our residents can get around our city safely and efficiently,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Investing in a robust and reliable public transportation system improves the transit experience and quality of life for all residents, and we are proud to be able to continue enhancing this important resource.”
Work performed along the mile-long, bus-only lanes featured along Chicago Avenue between Western and Ashland avenues, will support faster, more reliable bus service, according to the CTA. The project work also complements ongoing collaborative efforts between CDOT and CTA to improve the transit experience through similar investments, including other Bus Priority Zone (BPZ) projects in progress.
“This upgrade to Chicago Avenue is good news for residents of the 1st Ward and everyone who relies on the No. 66 bus,” said Daniel La Spata, 1st Ward Alderman. “Keeping our buses moving efficiently is one of my top priorities. I know a lot of 1st Ward residents rely on the Chicago bus, and I was pleased that they developed this proposal through our participatory budgeting process.”
The outer travel lanes of eastbound and westbound Chicago Avenue feature a designated bus-only lane now marked with red paint and text. By providing a designated space for buses, the new lanes will help buses avoid getting stuck in traffic congestion and help keep other vehicles clear of areas where buses need priority, like bus stops. The CTA added that this helps buses travel faster and stay on schedule, and allows for easier boarding.
“The temporary, pop-up essential bus lanes were a useful tool we implemented during the pandemic that have since proven to be vital in ensuring that buses traveling the #66 bus can pass through what has long been a bottle-neck and major source of delays along the route,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “By making these temporary measures permanent, we are cutting several minutes off the typical commute for those traveling through the corridor, and further improving service reliability across the entire route.”
The improved bus-only lanes are part of a variety of transit investments, including bus lanes and bus stop improvements throughout Chicago and complement ongoing BPZ projects currently under construction or in design.
The BPZ program is a partnership between CTA and CDOT that targets pinch points along major bus routes to speed up “bus slow zones."
“CDOT and CTA are working closely together to improve the entire transit experience – from installing infrastructure that improves bus efficiency to creating more walkable streets that make getting to and from bus stops safer and more comfortable,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “This full-time bus lane on Chicago Avenue, combined with ongoing pedestrian safety investments, will create a more transit and people-friendly street. Thanks to the support of Mayor Lightfoot, we look forward to bringing these investments to more corridors throughout Chicago.”
Other BPZ projects to be implemented include:
- Western Avenue between Logan Boulevard and George Street: Curbside dedicated bus lane during peak hours.
- 79th Street /Columbus/Kedzie: Bus lanes, queue jump signal, bus stop improvements, cul-de-sac, and intersection safety improvements.
Additional improvements are planned for this stretch of Chicago Avenue to calm vehicle traffic and improve pedestrian safety, according to the CTA. In the coming weeks, CDOT will install curb bump-outs and left-turn traffic calming at various intersections.