Regional Transportation Authority

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What is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)?

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a rapid mode of transportation that can provide the quality of rail transit and the flexibility of buses. BRT has been implemented in other cities throughout the world as a low-cost, rail-like method of moving people quickly and efficiently. In cities such as Los Angeles and Toronto, BRT has been efficiently and affordably implemented with very positive results. It has also been successfully implemented as an incremental approach to providing transit solutions to address roadway congestion.

The Regional Transit Strategic Plan recommends the region strike a balance between meeting current demand and developing new markets through the strategy of "Manage and accommodate currently growing demand." It is stated that "Much like with highway congestion mitigation, there is a need to consider ways to manage demand as well as ways to enhance or add capacity. New concepts and innovations related to bus service such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Transit Signal Priority (TSP) allow for more efficient bus service and can enhance service and capacity on existing bus routes."

The Region's key BRT initiatives include:

  • Pace I-55 Bus-on-Shoulder. Pace is currently running two demonstration routes operating on I-55 shoulder, Routes 755 and 855. This demonstration uses the highway inside (left) shoulder as a low speed priority treatment during peak periods for Pace's I-55 commuters express routes when congested highway conditions exist. The purpose of the demonstration is to determine whether using the highway shoulder for transit can significantly improve transit service quality while also maintaining safety and the function of the shoulder. The corridor extends approximately 30 miles from downtown Chicago to IL 53 in Bolingbrook in the southwest portion of the Chicago metropolitan area. Since the onset of the demonstration ridership has grown substantially, additional runs have been added and service schedule has become more reliable.

  • CTA Jeffery Jump. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) received funding for a BRT pilot project on the Jeffery Corridor. This bus rapid transit project runs along 103rd Street and Stony Island to Jefferson and Washington Streets, providing a high-quality transit link to the central business district in a corridor that lacks easy rail access. More than 200,000 people live and nearly 600,000 jobs are located within a half mile of this corridor.

  • CTA Ashland Ave BRT. The CTA is planning for a full BRT project along Ashland Avenue, completing an Environmental Assessment for the project in 2013. The long-range plan for the project is for Bus Rapid Transit along a 16-mile stretch of Ashland from Irving Park to 95th Street, including dedicated bus lanes, signal priority for buses, limited stops and pre-paid boarding with enhanced amenities at stations. Find out more at

  • Central Area Transitway . The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) received funding for the Central Area Transitway. The east-west corridor BRT will consist of designated bus priority lanes on two miles of downtown surface streets to be used by seven CTA bus routes. The project includes bus signal priority, "next bus" information, and bus shelter branding. This project will connect Union Station through several districts in the downtown loop to Navy Pier and expedite bus services. Bicycle lanes, bus lanes and streetscape enhancements are also expected to be part of the project.

  • Pace ART Network. Pace has plans for a coordinated network of arterial bus rapid transit in their service area. Arterial BRT is a combination of Transit Signal Priority (TSP), roadway improvements including queue jump lanes and IBS along arterial routes. A major Pace vision for the future is to create a 480-mile network of BRT on 23 corridors throughout northeastern Illinois. Service would be greatly improved along these 480 miles of arterial roads and highways. Find out more by visiting



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