MCI Commuter Coaches to Enhance Pace Service

Posted on September 23, 2013 by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

Page 3 of 3

Market, Outreach, Growth
Local media outlets were extremely supportive of Pace’s program and were also paramount in spreading the word, safety wise, to commuters who use I-55 that buses will be using shoulder. In addition, Pace launched a significant paid media campaign that included broadcast media and print advertising.

“We actually used a mix of conventional and unconventional advertising methods,” Wilmot says. “We used billboards along I-55, but we also had some interesting things like advertisements on gas pumps at gas stations to attract some people that currently drive for their commute.”

While commuters didn’t give up their vehicles immediately, Wilmot adds that they did use the service on days when traffic was expected to be horrible. Eventually, as arrival times became more predictable, ridership began to really pickup.

“Now that they know they can have the consistent travel times and the additional flexibility of when they’d like to travel, people have responded real well to that,” he says.

While the Bus-on-Shoulder program is only a five-year pilot, Pace is looking to expand the project to other areas.

“We have had discussions with the Illinois Tollway and IDOT to bring this program, or something very similar to some other area highways, including the I-90 Tollway in the northwest suburbs, and also, I-94, which is north of Chicago, and the Bishop Ford Freeway south of Chicago," Wilmot says.

Pace has also put forth its vision for a future that includes a 480-mile BRT network along 23 northeastern Illinois corridors. The agency seeks to implement arterial BRT alongside its Bus-on-Shoulder program through such measures as Transit Signal Priority, which is already being implemented on Pace’s Cermak Road route, plus ramp metering.

As an additional incentive for commuters, when the new Ventra smart card payment system is put into place, Pace will begin offering a 30-day pass for premium fare routes. The offer is directly targeted at riders of Routes 755 and 855, with a discounted pass available for students and seniors.

“In the past, the only discounted pass program we had for these routes was a 10-ride pass, so we are trying to be more responsive to riders who asked for this,” says Wilmot. “So far, with the ridership patterns we have seen, this pass is definitely warranted, and we think it will be popular among riders.”

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