Last month, I was able to share some information with you about an exciting transit project that I have had the pleasure of working on in Kane County, IL – the Randall/Orchard Road Bus Rapid Transit Study. As I stated then, “Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a high quality transit service that integrates a variety of strategies aimed at improving transit travel speed, reliability, passenger comfort, and transit identity over traditional fixed-route bus service.” This month, I have the even greater pleasure of sharing some information on a BRT project that is taking place in my home city of Chicago.
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) urban planners are working “in partnership with the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Department of Housing and Economic Development (DHED), and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)” to bring BRT to one of the most traveled corridors across Chicago. In December 2010, the CTA was awarded $1.6 million in grant money from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to perform a Livability Alternatives Analysis in order to better plan on how to make BRT a reality in Chicago along Ashland and Western Avenues. Ashland and Western Avenues are perfectly suited for BRT, as these avenues have second and third (respectively) highest CTA ridership, while 1 in 4 Chicagoans also live within a ½ mile of these corridors (this writer included).
The Livability Alternatives Analysis produced 4 design concepts in regards to how BRT lines can be placed along Chicago’s streets. These concepts were presented to the public during October 2012. Ultimately, CTA urban planners settled on the “Center Running BRT” concept. The proposed BRT line has several features that will distinguish it from a typical local Chicago Bus Line:
The two inside lanes of Ashland Avenue would be dedicated solely to BRT bus traffic (all other automobiles would be prohibited from using these lanes);
To board the buses, passengers would use one of several BRT platforms that will be constructed along the medium of Ashland Avenue, in roughly ½ mile intervals;
BRT stations will have bike racks and signs that will convey transit times to passengers;
The buses will have extra-wide doors to better facilitate passenger traffic;
Passengers would pay before entering the buses to expedite the boarding process; and
Traffic lights will be rigged to minimize the amount of time buses spend at traffic lights.
Currently, the City of Chicago is exploring the possibility of implementing the proposed BRT concept along only Ashland Avenue, expanding to Western Avenue sometime in the future.
What do you think about Chicago’s proposed plan to bring BRT to Ashland Avenue? Do you think a similar concept could be implemented in your city?
Credits: Images by the Chicago Transit Authority. Data linked to sources.