BRT Chicago

May 2013

Supporters Continue to Sign Up to Back BRT in Chicago

Businesses, schools and non-profits are signing up to support the development of a Bus Rapid Transit network in Chicago. In the past few weeks, the following organizations declared support for modern, reliable and fast public transit:

Brinshore Development L.L.C.
Cabanban Rubin & Mayberry Commercial Realty
Cristo Rey High School
Lake Street Supply
Mikva Challenge
Waterton Associates

See the full list of supporters to the right.

To become a BRT supporter, click here, or connect with Chris Ziemann, BRT Chicago, at, or through John Harris, a5, at

Ashland Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Plans Announced

City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) have announced plans to develop a vision for faster and more reliable transit in Chicago, which includes studying center-running BRT on a 16-mile stretch of Ashland Avenue between 95th Street and Irving Park Road. Starting in June, CTA and CDOT will begin working with local stakeholders on developing a plan that would create faster, more reliable bus service by increasing bus speeds by more than 80 percent during peak travel times, increasing reliability by 50 percent, and creating economic benefits for businesses and residents along the entire corridor.

Ashland Avenue has the highest ridership on CTA’s bus system and connects to seven CTA “L” stations, two Metra stations and 37 bus routes.

According to the proposed design, a dedicated center bus lane in each direction would have limited stops – every half mile and at CTA stations as well as transit-signal priority at intersections. New amenity-filled bus stations with enhanced, landscaped medians between stations will benefit bus riders, as well as area residents and businesses.  “This next step towards high quality, gold-standard BRT will benefit all Chicagoans, whether you’re taking transit, driving, or running a business along Ashland,”I says Chris Ziemann, Chicago BRT project manager. In addition to faster travel, proposed BRT on Ashland will:

- Save about eight minutes per trip based on the current average trip length on the #9 Ashland bus of 2.5 miles
- Preserve over 90 percent of parking on both sides of the street
- Enhance the quality of Ashland Avenue with more than 75 blocks of new streetscaping, including medians, better lighting, wider sidewalks and more greenery
- Allow the potential for pre-payment for faster boarding, similar to CTA ‘L’ stations
- Preserve approximately 95 percent of loading zones for delivery trucks

With Cortland Avenue to 31st Street identified as the first section of future implementation, BRT service would provide connections to CTA rail lines, Metra and bus lines, as well as large employers like the Illinois Medical District and popular destinations like UIC, Malcolm X College, and the United Center. Though construction will initially focus on this six-mile area, improvements made during the initial phase will provide benefits for the entire 16-mile corridor through increased speeds for buses.

“One in four households within walking distance of Ashland Avenue currently do not have a car,” said Metropolitan Planning Council Executive Vice President Peter Skosey. “By implementing BRT, a community that is not served well by the rail system will have better access to jobs and connectivity to the overall transit system.”

The project will now move into its concept engineering and environmental design phase in which CDOT and the CTA will comprehensively analyze the route on a block-by-block basis. As it has been since CDOT and CTA first began discussing the Ashland/Western BRT concepts more than a year ago, public input will be a crucial component of developing the final plans.

Click here to learn more about BRT and the Ashland plans.

“All Star” Jury Selected to Judge Bus Rapid Transit Station Design Competition

Entries Due May 21 with Winners Announced at Event on June 6 at Chicago Architecture Foundation.

The Chicago Architectural Club and the Chicago Architecture Foundation announced an “All Star” jury for the 2013 Burnham Prize Competition: NEXT STOP – Designing BRT Stations for Chicago.

Deadline for entries is May 21 at midnight. Winners of the competition will be announced June 6 at an event at the Chicago Architecture Foundatiuon.

The jurors are a who’s who of Chicago architecture, landscape architecture and transportation:

Monica Chadha, Illinois Institute of Technology
Gordon Gill, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Cheri Heramb, AECOM
Gabe Klein, Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT)
Pat Natke, UrbanWorks Architecture
Peter Osler, Illinois Institute of Technology
Carol Ross Barney, Ross Barney Architects
Rebekah Scheinfeld, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
Stanley Tigerman, Tigerman McCurry Architecture

The competition seeks to integrate innovative and compelling transportation design into Chicago’s urban fabric. NEXT STOP proposals will realize BRT as a system of solutions: teams will submit designs for three different sites, demonstrating how BRT station design can be adapted to different contexts. Competitors will design stations for:

Downtown near State and Madison
Bucktown-Logan Square at Western Avenue Blue Line ‘L’ stop
Pilsen near 18th and Ashland

Entry information, including a complete set of rules, can be found here and are due by midnight, May 21, 2013.

Register for the June 6 event celebrating the NEXT STOP winners. Click here for more information.

The competition was developed in partnership with the City of Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Chicago Bus Rapid Transit Steering Committee.

GOOD Magazine Event to Shine Spotlight on BRT on Wednesday, May 29

Bus Rapid Transit will take center stage at a GOOD Magazine event on Wednesday, May 29 in downtown Chicago at the Cultural Center.

“Building the Future of Bus Rapid Transit in Chicago” will be held in the Reading Room at the Spontaneous Interventions exhibit at the Cultural Center on May 29th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (The panel will take place from 6 to 6:45 with a group brainstorm activity to follow facilitated by George and Sara Aye of Greater Good Studio.

Moderated by Tracy Swartz, CTA reporter for the Red Eye, the event will feature four panelists:

-Joseph Iacobucci, Manager, Strategic Planning and Policy at Chicago Transit Authority
-Steve Schlickman, Executive Director at Urban Transportation Center, University of Illinois Chicago
-Christopher Ziemann, Chicago Bus Rapid Transit Project Manager
-Ron Burke, Executive Director, Active Transportation Alliance

This event is free and open to the public. Click here to sign up.

TAKE ACTION: Support Faster, More Reliable Transit on Ashland Avenue and Across Chicago!

The CTA recently announced exciting plans for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Ashland Avenue that would reinvent the bus, making it faster, more reliable and more like taking the train. Momentum is building for bringing world-class transit like this to Ashland and other parts of Chicago, but your help is needed to keep it going!

Plans for BRT will create a more welcoming environment for pedestrians and prioritize transit on the street by converting the center lanes on Ashland to bus-only lanes and adding full-service transit stations and high-tech traffic signals. It’s a smarter way to move people and balance the needs of everyone who uses our streets.

Please click here and send a message of support to your alderman and the CTA today.

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 Ashland Avenue.

Learn More

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