Since the Bus on Shoulder program cuts down on the time it takes to get to the city, commuters ABC7 talked to Monday had positive reviews.
Michelle Hack got to work 30 minutes early on Monday.
"I start work at 8 o'clock, and it's nice because I no longer have to call in to tell them I'm running behind because of traffic," said Hack, who rides the Pace bus from Bolingbrook to her job in the East Loop.
The two-year pilot program will allow buses from Pace routes 755 and 855 to ride on the shoulder of certain portions of the Stevenson during weekday rush hour. Route 755 goes from Plainfield to the Illinois Medical District. Route 855 serves Plainfield, Romeoville, Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge and Chicago's Loop.
The coach-style buses will only use the shoulder when traffic in the regular lanes slows to less than 35 mph.
A round-trip ticket costs $8, much less than it costs to park downtown for a work day. Commuters on board can also use free WiFi, which some said helped them to get some work done Monday morning.
Chopper7HD spotted the buses bypassing Stevenson traffic.
"It did work for me this morning. It took about 15 minutes off my commute," another Pace commuter Johanna Sanchez said.
"It's pretty cool. We were passing real good, and we were driving real good and smoothly," said Maria Correa, also a commuter.
Pace officials say they hope the new program will double ridership.
"It's not gonna take too long before people who are driving see that bus going down the shoulder, and it's getting downtown faster than they are. They see how much it cost to park downtown-- we have free park and rides in the suburbs. It won't be long before they give us a try," Pace spokesperson Patrick Wilmot told ABC7.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has been touting Bus on Shoulder as a landmark step toward reducing the Chicago area's congestion, which is second worst in the nation.
If the pilot program is a success, the plan is to expand it.
"We're aggressively looking at I-90, the Jane Adams. There's other applications that have a lot of potential here," Wilmot said.
For more information on the Bus on Shoulder program, visit http://www.pacebus.com/sub/schedules/route_notice_detail.asp?Notice_ID=2865
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)