BRT Chicago

November 2013

Ashland BRT Public Meetings set for December 10 and 11; attend and contribute

On Tuesday, the CTA and CDOT announced the release of the Environmental Analysis (EA) for the Ashland BRT project. After responding to comments for faster buses and the importance of parking and streetscaping during the planning study in 2012, CTA and CDOT announced the preferred alternative (shown above). This alternative, which would use the middle lanes for bus-only lanes, feature pre-paid and level boarding, and transit signal priority, would speed buses 83% to almost 16mph, increase reliability by 50%, and increase safety and comfort for pedestrians. It would also retain 92% of parking and 96% of loading zones, and restrict left turns for vehicles.

“The Metropolitan Planning Council supports BRT on Ashland Avenue because it will create a north-south corridor of reliable, high-quality transit service in part of the city that is underserved by our existing rapid transit network,” says Peter Skosey, Executive Vice President at MPC. “More than 10 million people travel by bus each year on Ashland—more than some CTA rail lines—but they must endure delays and unreliable service. By bringing rail-like speed, convenience and reliability to the Ashland corridor, BRT does more than simply improve transit service—it improves access to jobs, schools, businesses and other destinations, ultimately improving quality of life for residents.”

The EA is a federally required document that analyzes project impacts, including traffic analyses. It is now complete and available on CTA’s website and in hard copy at several community locations.  After hearing and collecting comments to the alternative since the spring when it was announced, CTA and CDOT are now holding two public open house meetings to discuss the EA’s findings and gather additional input from the public.

So far, support has been strong. “More than 2,500 people have signed Active Transportation Alliance’s petition in support of BRT on Ashland and across Chicago,” says Ron Burke, Executive Director of Active Transportation Alliance. “This enthusiastic response shows us that the Ashland BRT project is just the kind of transit improvement that Chicago needs. As part of our outreach, dozens of people have volunteered to walk door-to-door and visit bus stops with us, as well as talk to business owners and transit riders on Ashland about why BRT is important to them. Residents, businesses and organizations that have signed on are supportive of BRT on Ashland because we need to rethink how we’re using limited street space to create safer streets that better serve all Chicagoans.”

CTA and CDOT are still developing the Ashland BRT design, and are considering modifications based on the results of the analyses, impacts and mitigation strategies, and all public comments before moving forward with the next phase. There will also be public input solicited as part of the next design phase, scheduled to occur in 2014. In addition to submitting comments by e-mail at, comments can also be made at the public meetings:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 6:00 - 8:00 P.M.

1450 W. Cermak Road
Chicago, IL 60608
Served by Pink Line (18th Street) and CTA Bus Routes #9, #21, #60

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 6:00 - 8:00 P.M.

1419 W. Blackhawk Street
Chicago, IL 60642
Served by Blue Line (Division) and CTA Bus Routes #9 and #56

Hear from a few supporters, and please attend these one (or both) of these meetings and share your thoughts, support, concerns, and ideas for BRT on Ashland Avenue. 

For more information, click here.

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:

HDR Engineering
Scylla Body Jewlery and Corsetiere

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

Grassroots leaders mobilize hundreds of transit riders in support of Ashland BRT

Armed with clipboards, brochures and a vision for a brighter transit future, a gallant crew of Active Transportation Alliance volunteer leaders reached hundreds of transit riders in a week-long grassroots outreach blitz to rally support for bringing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to Ashland Ave.

Braving cold weather, early mornings and even a bit of rain, our team of transit heroes connected with riders up and down Ashland Ave. to spread the word about BRT in Chicago. They shared with riders the exciting plan to bring BRT to Chicago and Active Trans' campaign to help make it happen.

All week long one thing was clear: people want Bus Rapid Transit.

When we mentioned Ashland BRT service would travel up to twice as fast as the current #9 bus, people’s eyes lit up and they were eager to learn more and get involved.

It's just another sign of the times: long-suffering transit riders are mobilizing for change.

Click here to see more.

LunchTalks@CAF: Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin

Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Time: 12:15 - 1pm
Cost: Free
Location: 224 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) Lecture Hall

Active Transportation Alliance's Campaign Manager Brenna Conway will discuss the Lakefront with an emphasis on redefining North Lake Shore Drive on Wednesday, November 20 at 224 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) Lecture Hall.

Bring a bag lunch.

As Chicago begins a long process to reconstruct North Lake Shore Drive, one of our city’s most iconic streets, Active Transportation Alliance and a coalition of 15 civic organizations in the city of Chicago are calling for a bold vision, to better meet the needs of everyone who uses the lakefront. Chicago now faces a choice: We can seize the opportunity to pursue bold plans to improve transit, such as BRT, along the lakefront, to build a people-friendly roadway, and to provide better access to our parks.

To see more lunch events, click here.

Public outreach continues for Central Loop BRT

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is continuing to reach out to stakeholders of the Central Loop Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, taking steps to ensure that all who would like to discuss the project have been contacted.

Individual meetings were organized with small groups of building managers, businesses and other stakeholders in October and November to present the project benefits, discuss changes the project will introduce and describe in detail the planned adjustments to the street layout. These meetings and follow-up meetings will continue through the end of the year.

Feedback from these meetings will be taken into consideration as planners finalize the project’s design.

Construction of the Central Loop BRT project is expected to start in spring 2014, with service starting late 2014. The corridor will use dedicated bus lanes on Washington, Madison, Clinton and Canal to move people through downtown, improving reliability and speed for more than six bus routes in the area, while extending benefits to neighborhoods throughout the city where these routes originate. Bicycle travel in the Loop will also be improved with protected bike lanes on Washington, Randolph and Clinton.

BRT in the Central Loop will strengthen Chicago’s economy by improving access to jobs and attractions downtown, and generating foot traffic to businesses along the way. By making it easier to get to work and go about daily activities, the Central Loop BRT will also improve everyday life for residents, employees and visitors.

Learn more about the Central Loop BRT at CDOT’s website.

When you think Las Vegas, think public transportation

Already one of the top tourist destinations in the U.S., Las Vegas is now fast becoming one of the most transit-friendly cities in America thanks to a rapidly growing Bus Rapid Transit System. According to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), Las Vegas’ Bus Rapid Transit system ranks number five in the nation and the number of mass transit commuters went from four percent to 48 percent in ten years.

It started in 2004 when the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) opened the Metropolitan Area Express (MAX), which included standard BRT features like off-board fare collection, special buses, and stations with at-level boarding at most stops. The MAX has 4.5 miles of dedicated lanes out of the route’s total 7.5 miles. Early studies reported that 40 percent of riders saved at least 15 minutes and over 60 percent saved at least 10 minutes. The average speed along the MAX corridor increased 20 percent and the ridership increased 25 percent.

The MAX was cheaper to build and ride compared to a light rail but still had the comfortable feel of a train, making it a success for the RTC and commuters. This led to the construction of the Strip Downtown Express (SDX), which includes 2.25 miles of dedicated right-of-way. The SDX won riders over with improved service and a scaled-up look and feel. Jacob Snow, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of South Nevada called it “a train on tires.” The SDX services an average of 14,000 passengers every weekday despite the Casinos’ attempt to make it harder for people to leave the strip.

Since the completion of the SDX, the RTC has added four additional BRT routes, saving commuters time and money, reducing traffic congestion in and around Las Vegas and creating more than 500 jobs.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada continues to implement systems that are contributing to a sustainable quality of life. Current and ongoing projects include “The 11” as a city bypass, the Laughlin-Bullhead city bridge project, a multimodal transit center near the University of Nevada, and a regional bicycle network.

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.

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