URBAN TRANSIT: Chicago’s Loop Link BRT ready to go in time for winter

Dec. 16, 2015

The Windy City’s first BRT corridor will open Dec. 20 after nearly a year’s construction

Bus rapid transit (BRT) will arrive in downtown Chicago just a day before the official start of winter. Dubbed the Loop Link, the city’s first BRT corridor will skirt both Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center, describing a route east on Washington Street to Michigan Avenue and then back west along Madison Street.

The new service is expected to more than double the average speed of Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) buses traveling through the busiest sections of downtown. The average speed on routes through the middle of downtown was 3 mph; buses now will reach speeds of 7 mph saving an estimated 7.5 minutes on a mile-long ride.

Other corridor improvements include:

  • Covered stations equipped with Bus Tracker displays;
  • Safer boarding with raised platforms;
  • More seating for waiting passengers; and
  • Traffic signal upgrades that provide buses an early green light.

According to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and CTA, technology testing that would allow riders to pay before they board and thus speed up the boarding process is presently taking place.

On weekdays, 1,000 buses travel the Loop Link routes taking passengers to work, shopping or to connect with attractions in Streeterville, River North, Navy Pier, the Museum Campus and other destinations.