In addition to regular changes to accommodate seasonal ridership patterns and changing demand across the region, we also regularly embark on projects to improve bus services locally and systemwide.
For example, since 2012, we've acquired an almost entirely new bus fleet, providing riders with safe, reliable and more comfortable transportation. Between new bus purchases and major overhauls of buses currently in our fleet that extend their lifespan, nearly all -- 95 percent -- of our bus fleet will be new or like new.
Here's an overview of some recent, past projects we've implemented or piloted to improve services.
Western and Ashland Bus Service Improvements
We reintroduced the #X9 Ashland Express and #X49 Western Express bus routes, which run during the morning and afternoon rush periods. Express buses make stops roughly every half-mile and at all bus and rail transfer points. This has reduced travel times for passengers on these heavily traveled corridors.
The estimated time savings for each express route was 17 minutes. Ashland express service outperformed expectations by about 8 minutes.
Typical local service end-to-end times savings:
- Western: 15 minutes
- Ashland: 25 minutes
We optimized bus stop spacing on the local routes by removing some of the least-used stops. This allows buses to travel faster by reducing the time buses spend frequently merging in and out of traffic while still providing convenient access along both corridors.
New Clean Diesel Buses
In 2013, the Chicago Transit Board approved the purchase of at least 300 new buses as part of CTA’s bus fleet modernization initiative announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool in June 2012.The board approved a contract with Nova Bus that allows for the purchase of at least 300 buses and as many as 450 clean diesel buses that will provide customers with a more comfortable and reliable ride. In October 2017, we exercised the final option of the contract, bringing the total ordered to 450, with 425 of those buses already in service.
#11 Lincoln Extension Pilot
In 2016, we began a pilot based on community feedback to extend the #11 Lincoln bus south of the Western Brown Line station to Fullerton.
The hours of service of the pilot were intended to serve the kind of trips the community desired, such as service to senior activities, medical appointments, and shopping trips along Lincoln Avenue. The schedule has also best corresponded with adjacent Brown Line service and the other twelve north-south and east-west bus routes that cross or stop in the area.
To help promote and generate awareness of this service, we undertook two extensive marketing and awareness campaigns in late 2016 and spring 2017, that included direct engagement with stakeholders and businesses along the #11 corridor, advertisements, social media promotion and a host of other efforts. This is in addition to numerous and creative efforts put forth by members of the local community.
Unfortunately, wasn’t anywhere near what was needed to sustain a route of this kind, averaging about 500 riders per day compared with the target of 1,500, and the pilot ended in September of 2017.
Jump is a new CTA bus service designed to provide a faster, more convenient travel experience. CTA riders living along the Jeffery Boulevard corridor are the first Chicagoans to try out this new kind of bus service. Jump has a number of new features both on the bus and along a two-mile stretch of Jeffery Boulevard:
- Dedicated Bus Lanes: Jump corridors will be striped and signed for dedicated bus lanes between 67th & 83rd during congested periods (northbound from 7-9 AM and southbound from 4-6 PM).
- Fewer Stops: Average ½-mile Jump station spacing will increase travel speeds. The #15 will continue all local stops, including shared stops at all Jump stations.
- Transit Signal Priority: Traffic signals from 73rd St. to 84th St. will be upgraded to test an early or extended green light, so the bus can get through the intersection more quickly.
- Queue Jumps: Bypass lanes will allow a Jump bus to advance through an intersection with a unique traffic signal to move buses ahead of general traffic. A queue jump will be piloted at Anthony Ave. and Jeffery Blvd.
- High-Quality Stations: Most Jump stations will include lighted shelters with Bus Tracker displays, high-visibility kiosks, and ADA-accessible sidewalk ramps. Select locations will also feature bike racks, benches, trash cans, and landscape planters.
- Vehicle Enhancements: Buses will have unique graphics identifying Jump service for easy identification and will be equipped with on-board Bus Tracker displays so customers can anticipate arrival times at key destinations.
Bus Shelter & Rail Station Bus Arrival Signs
We know you love CTA Bus Tracker SM and we've taken steps to make this valuable service tool readily available to thousands more people without needing a computer or mobile device. As of 2016, we have more than 400 digital displays installed at bus shelters and rail staions, some of which include high-traffic locations and key transfer points throughout our service region.
In general, CTA Bus Tracker displays are installed at bus shelters that serve multiple bus routes and rail stations that serve as transfer points to connecting bus routes. We have worked hard to pick locations that benefit communities across the city, assist you with your bus trip and reach as many riders as possible.
Each bus shelter sign is equipped with a push button and speaker to announce the estimated arrival times for our riders with visual impairments.
Plan to Reduce Crowding
In 2012, we implemented a plan to reduce uncomfortable crowding, meet growing ridership needs and add bus and train service on high-demand routes across the entire CTA network.
The plan added service to 48 bus routes across the city. It will also add 17 rail trips to the Red, Blue, Brown, Purple, Orange and Green lines during weekday rush periods to ease crowding on trains. The Red, Brown and Blue lines will also see significant increases in weekend service.
The plan also discontinued service on 12 duplicative or low ridership routes as well as service on four bus route segments, though not eliminating those entire routes.