BRT Chicago

March 2013

Supporters Lining Up in Favor of BRT in Chicago

Bus Rapid Transit supporters are getting on board quickly. Thank you to these organizations and their leadership for signing on in support of better rapid transit options in Chicago:

AARP Real Possibilities ®
Chicago Chapter AIGA, The Professional Association for Design
American Institute of Architects Chicago
Chicago Children’s Museum
Congress for the New Urbanism
Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Illinois Medical District
University of Illinois at Chicago
Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago

If you would like to support BRT, contact Chris Ziemann, BRT Project Manager, at

CTA and CDOT Reveal Designs for Central Loop Corridor

Last week, the CTA and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) unveiled proposed lane configurations for the Central Loop East-West Transit Corridor. Beginning in 2014, the downtown Bus Rapid Transit route will connect Union Station with Navy Pier.

The plans call for improving mostly existing bus-only lanes on two miles of streets: Canal, Washington, Madison and Clinton. The streets with bus-only lanes include the following Bus Rapid Transit features: level boarding, queue jumps for buses at key intersections, and other features to help speed traffic through the Loop.

In addition to speeding up buses, the lanes will make auto traffic more orderly by separating buses and regular traffic. This, along with signal timing updates, will make general traffic move smoothly. They project also improves bicycle safety by creating protected bike lanes on Washington and Randolph Streets. It also makes crossing the streets safer for pedestrians by shortening the crosswalk where there are bus stops.

To see the news release from CDOT, click here.

Bus Rapid Transit on a Roll in Chicago

Four major stakeholders for Chicago’s Bus Rapid Transit project participated on a panel March 1 at the Metropolitan Planning Council roundtable, Bus Rapid Transit on a Roll in Chicago, to share their perspective on the importance of this transit investment for the City.

CTA’s Rebekah Scheinfeld focused on the three existing BRT projects and outlined the need for a system plan, scheduled to begin in 2013. CDOT’s Gabe Klein described the design plans for the Central Loop BRT and the Union Station Transportation Center. Klein stressed the need to address how we are moving people through our city, not just cars, as buses on Washington and Madison Streets currently make up four percent of the auto traffic, but carry 47 percent of the people who aren’t walking.

Similarly, buses on Ashland and Western Avenues make up one percent of the daily traffic, but carry 14 percent and 18 percent of the people. Warren Ribley, executive director of the Illinois Medical District (IMD), which sits between Ashland and Western Avenues, offered a fresh perspective on the value of BRT along these corridors. Whether they are employees or visitors, approximately 100,000 people head to the IMD on a daily basis. With parking lots and street parking regularly at capacity, Ribley stressed that, “we need better options for people getting to the Medical District” and named BRT as being critically important to economic growth of the District and for patient access.

Finally, Nick Turner, Managing Director, Rockefeller Foundation, inspired the audience to truly “go for the gold” when making BRT improvements. The Rockefeller Foundation believes in us – that we could be the first U.S. city to implement truly world-class BRT. The rapid transit system in Chicago was built so that people from anywhere in the City could take CTA downtown. Today, with jobs and households dispersed throughout the city and region, we need to add another layer to our current system that helps make these new connections. BRT can do that for us.

To view the roundtable video, click here.

BRT in Chicago at TRB and APA Events

In January, Joe Iacobucci, Manager of Strategic Planning at the CTA, and Scott Kubly, Managing Deputy Commissioner of CDOT, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board on BRT in Chicago. This was part of a workshop on Defining BRT, with speakers from around the world.

In addition, BRT Project Manager Chris Ziemann spoke at the  American Planning Association event about the future of Bus Rapid Transit in Chicago. Ziemann outlined CTA and CDOT’s plans for Bus Rapid Transit in the city.

The Jeffery Jump, the first new type of transit service since the trolley bus service opened in 1930, is paving the way for Bus Rapid Transit in the Loop and along Western and Ashland Avenues.

BRT Contributes to A Greener Mexico City

Mexico City committed $2 billion to ease the traffic congestion issues it is notorious for, and it ramped up its collaboration with a useful nonprofit called EMBARQ, which works (in Brazil, China, India, Turkey and the Andes as well as Mexico) on sustainable transportation solutions. So a year after coming in last in IBM’s driver study, the city won a Sustainable Transport Award. Here’s what they did:

It starts with bus rapid transit, which has turned the city of Curitiba, Brazil, into the poster child for sensible urban traffic control. Some 70 percent of Curitiba’s commuters travel on buses that travel in dedicated and otherwise traffic-free corridors (see photo below). Mexico City’s system, Metrobus (supported with a $49 million World Bank grant), launched in 2005, and has expanded rapidly (including to the airport), and now serves 315,000 passengers a day (about half the number who ride Washington, D.C.’s Metro system). If you want to use a major artery to get into the historic downtown area now, you either ride a Metrobus or walk.

Each year, Metrobus (which operates a fleet of hybrids and Euro V clean diesels with 95 percent less particulate emissions than earlier buses) cuts nitrogen oxide emissions by 690 tons, particulate by 2.8 tons, and hydrocarbons by 144 tons. According to EMBARQ, the bus rapid transit (BRT) system has improved mobility by 50 percent, cut accidents by 30 percent, and moved six percent of travelers from private cars to public transportation.

Click here to read the full article.

What is BRT Chicago?

BRT Chicago is a unique collaboration of city agencies and non-profit partners. CTA, CDOT, and DHED, with the work of the Metropolitan Planning Council, the Active Transportation Alliance, the Civic Consulting Alliance, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, are working to plan and implement a successful Bus Rapid Transit program in Chicago. Each partner provides its own expertise to make the BRT a comprehensive project of transportation, land use, design, and sustainability.

BRT has been identified as an effective transportation solution in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pledged to develop BRT in Chicago. The Chicago Climate Action Plan also identifies BRT as a cost-effective way to expand the city’s transit network. To meet increased demand, the CTA is using elements of BRT on its new Jeffery Jump service, and will along Madison and Washington Streets in the central business district to connect Union Station with Navy Pier. The CTA, in partnership with the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Economic Development, is planning the potential BRT routes along Western and Ashland Avenues.


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