Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

Chicago Building a More Bus-Friendly Central City

11:11 AM EST on February 23, 2012

false

Big announcement yesterday out of Chicago: Mayor Rahm Emanuel is moving ahead with a system of priority busways between Union Station and Navy Pier. The "Central Area Transitway" will include dedicated bus lanes, signal priority for transit vehicles, and frequent service during rush hour, improving trips for riders on several different bus routes.

The $32 million plan has some limitations, says Yonah Freemark at the Transport Politic. For example, it makes a tourist destination --Navy Pier -- its terminus, limiting its usefulness to commuters, and bus riders will save only about 1.1 minutes on trips between Union Station and Michigan Avenue. But Chicago is laying the groundwork for something bigger and giving residents more options at the same time, and that's exciting news, Freemark says:

If the CTA designs signage well enough, customers attempting to make the trip from Oglivie Transportation Center — another commuter rail station — to Millennium Park would have six services to choose from, offering fantastic headways of one minute at peak and two minutes off-peak. But the city will have to be careful not to place too much emphasis on the “Central Area Transitway” brand that it will give to the bus that runs the full route from Union Station to Navy Pier, because the most important element of this improvement project is its provision of minor improvements to many bus lines, not just a single one. It should be clear to customers that if they want to take a certain trip, they have several options.

Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s leadership, Chicago is taking an incremental approach to the improvement of public transportation in the city, steering away from the mega-fantasies of the Daley era. The CTA is already planning to invest in similar bus priority improvements on Jeffery Boulevard in the South Side for the #14 bus and along the north-south spine of Western Avenue as part of a citywide BRT plan that would fill in the gaps missing from inadequate rail service in certain areas. Slowly but surely, the city’s bus lines are scheduled for improvement.

Yet the city’s bigger ambitions remain apparent. In the application for the federal urban circulator grant in 2010, the city included the following map, documenting potential new transit routes for the center city along dedicated rights-of-way, clearly modeled after the improvements suggested by the 2009 Central Area Action Plan, which proposed light rail lines on the Carroll, Clinton, Monroe, and Lakefront Corridors. They would either be placed underground or along dedicated transit routes, like the McCormick Center busway (for the Lakefront route).

Elsewhere on the Network today: Los Alamos Bikes considers the news that the League of American Bicyclists, Bikes Belong and the Alliance for Biking and Walking are considering a merger. Car Free Baltimore reviews some of the best strategies for minimizing injuries to pedestrians and cyclists at arterial roadways -- where traffic injuries are most common. And Second Avenue Sagas explores how the House transportation bill would damage New York City's transit system.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Thursday’s Headlines See Daylight

Daylighting, or removing parking near intersections, is an often overlooked way to improve pedestrian safety.

November 30, 2023

Why So Many U.S. Drivers Think Speeding Is Perfectly Safe

Do Americans hit lethal speeds because they're in a rush, or because they have no idea that they're increasing their chances of death with every tick of the odometer?

November 30, 2023

Highway Boondoggles 2023: Habitat Devastation in the Hoosier State

Plans for a new 54-mile highway in southern Indiana threaten thousands of acres of forests, farmland and wildlife habitat. So why is Indiana forging ahead anyway?

November 30, 2023

Wednesday’s Headlines Are Too Fast, Too Furious

When it comes to speeding, why don't regulators and automakers save drivers from themselves?

November 29, 2023

Reader Roundup: What the Demise of the Inter-city Bus Station Means for Passengers

Here's just a few of the horror stories we heard from readers who are struggling with the inter-city bus industry's latest push for "curbside" loading.

November 29, 2023
See all posts