Active Trans staffer Lee Crandell talks to Enrique Rico. The three poster boards are displayed at the bottom.
Riders for Better Transit is reaching out to bus riders across the city to inform them about plans to build better bus service on Western Avenue or Ashland Avenue (or both?). They visited six bus stops last week with informational posters. Lee Crandell, campaigns director for Active Transportation Alliance, was staffing the exhibit at 18th Street and Ashland Avenue in Pilsen when I visited last Wednesday. One goal of the outreach, Crandell said, was to “make a public meeting in the street for those who couldn’t attend” the static meetings.
When I arrived, Enrique Rico was waiting for the northbound Ashland 9 bus. I noticed the next bus was coming so I tried to ask Rico a quick question before leaving, starting with if he had heard of BRT (bus rapid transit) before now. He said he hadn’t, but Crandell informed me that Rico had told him earlier he was familiar with the enhanced bus services in Mexico City. The Metropolitan Planning Council, a major sponsor of this traveling exhibit, had sent a few of its staff members to Mexico City to explore the 4 line Metrobús system that opened in 2005.
There, Metrobús requires passengers pay before boarding and enter the bus station through turnstiles, just like at Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) ‘L’ stations. The system uses articulated buses with three doors for people to enter and exit, onto a level platform. These features are part of what the Institute for Transportation Development and Policy (ITDP) calls the “gold standard”. Other major features to reach gold are a separated lane (that no other vehicle can be driven in), and signal priority at intersections (so buses don’t have to wait for the next green to go).
Riders for Better Transit, and all of the other sponsors of the exhibit, are advocating for these elements on a BRT line that would travel down Western Avenue, Ashland Avenue, or both. Crandell expects that the next set of public meetings will show some alternatives that will depict possible routing options. Their campaign is asking bus riders to contact their alderman to tell them “you want a world-class BRT system for your neighborhood” (according to a flyer Crandell was passing out).
Take action: Contact your alderman and request that they support better bus service in the form of bus rapid transit (BRT).
In related news, the City of Chicago recently awarded a $3.5 million contract to Sumit Construction to build the bus rapid transit lanes on the Jeffery Corridor, including bus-only lanes during rush hour, new bus stop shelters, and signal priority at intersections. The improvements will be on Jeffery Boulevard from 67th to 103rd Streets.
The third poster board showed a possible design of a centered bus lane down Ashland Avenue at 18th Street.
A close up of the centered bus lane down Ashland Avenue at 18th Street.
A rendering of what the bus stop at 18th and Ashland might look like. Renderings by Chicago Transit Authority and Kevin Pound. The traveling exhibit is done in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which has hosted BRT events this year, and has an exhibit at its headquarters, 224 S Michigan Avenue.
Updated 14:45 to add bottom two renderings.