TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT: Pace floats $2.3 billion bus rapid transit plan before Congress

Six-county project would employ transit signal priority technology, shoulder lanes to move Chicagoans faster

January 23, 2015

Chicago-area transit agency Pace sent a proposal for a $2.3 billion regional bus rapid transit (BRT) system to Congress this week in the hopes of securing federal funding for the ambitious project.

The central idea behind the Rapid Transit Network is faster, uninterrupted travel in Chicago and out to its furthest suburbs, encompassing six counties in total. Under the proposal submitted by Pace, bus service would take two forms:

  • Suburban expressway service, in which buses are allowed to pass cars on the interstate using the shoulder. Pace already has two lines operating with similar procedures on I-55; those buses are allowed to pass on the shoulder if traffic is moving slower than 35 mph. A total of 11 suburban expressway service lines were proposed.
  • Arterial bus rapid transit (ART) buses would use the regular driving lanes but be equipped with transit signal priority technology, which can adjust the timing of traffic lights to get the bus through an intersection. Pace said that signal timing would not be automatically adjusted and would depend on traffic conditions. The agency wants to build 24 ART lines on 655 miles of roadway.

The proposal was sent to Congress for consideration of federal funding under the new Projects of National and Regional Significance program. No timetable was given for when the proposal might be considered or when Pace would want to kick off construction.