CTA's 'Bus Rapid Transit' on Western/Ashland could speed up travel

June 12, 2012 9:10:01 PM PDT
CTA bus passengers on two major streets may one day get to ride in the fast lane. Traffic experts are exploring options for a variety of rapid transit features along Western and Ashland avenues -- from Howard on the north to 95th on the south.

The "bus rapid transit" plan includes dedicated bus lanes so bus drivers can avoid having to merge back into general traffic which tends to slow them down. They would also get dedicated signals, including longer green lights, to help them negotiate more quickly through the cars and trucks.

"A big part of this project is to create a route that's similar to a rail experience, in other words faster and more reliable," said Joe Iacobucci, CTA.

The Western Avenue corridor carries about 30,000 passengers a day from the South Side to the North Side of the city. It is one of the busiest -- and most congested -- routes in the city.

"The way it's mapped out, the way I see it with the dedicated lanes, I don't see a problem," said Mae Gandy, commuter, who added she'd be likely to take the new routes.

"Just the idea of people getting back from work and home and back and forth is a good thing and quicker," said Alderman Toni Foulke, 15th Ward.

According to the CTA, buses make up only 1 percent of the traffic along Western and Ashland, but they carry 15 percent of the commuters.

Many who are dependent on the buses for transportation say, it's about time.

"It could definitely use improvements," said Bernie Brown, commuter. "I wish they'd bring more bus routes back. They used to run a lot and had more buses, too," said Bernie Brown, commuter.

The CTA has two more meetings on the North and West sides over the next two days. Commuters can also add their input on the CTA website. Officials hope to have a plan in place by the end of the year.


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