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Jeffery Jump aims to cut length of bus trip from South Side

The CTA launched Jeffery Jump bus route Monday.  |  Bailey Dick~Sun-Time Media

The CTA launched the Jeffery Jump bus route Monday. | Bailey Dick~Sun-Time Media

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Updated: December 14, 2012 6:17AM

Aside from a bright blue exterior, a bus on the CTA’s new Jeffery Jump route doesn’t look that special.

But the bus gets special treatment that cuts seven minutes off the normal 16-mile trip along Jeffery Boulevard from 103rd Street to downtown.

CTA officials are hoping that the route, which began Monday, will open the door on innovations for bus travel in the city. The service links the Hyde Park, Jackson Park and South Shore neighborhoods to downtown via an express bus route that features designated bus lanes between 67th and 83rd streets; fewer stops, and special traffic signals during rush hours.

It’s being funded by an $11 million Federal Transit Administration grant that was awarded in 2010.

The route, which follows the former X14 express route, runs 16 miles along Jeffery Boulevard from 103rd Street to downtown, with about 12,000 riders on weekdays. There are fewer stops along the route and half a mile between stops.

The No. 15 Jeffery Local bus will continue to provide local service, and stops in the downtown area have not changed.

Service is slated to get even faster early next year, when buses will get priority at traffic signals between 71st and 83rd streets. Special traffic signals will be installed at intersections where bottlenecking occurs to allow buses to go ahead of regular traffic.

The Jeffery Jump bus was crowded but not full during the Monday-morning rush hour.

For some riders, such as Marcus Nosado, the new service is a quicker way to get downtown. “The Blue Line isn’t this fast,” he said. “I’ll definitely keep using it.”

Other riders, including Raven Evans, aren’t so sure. The Southeast Side resident, who works at a hotel downtown, often rides the X14 route to work. But she’s wary of what the commute will be like once cold weather hits.

“It’s faster, but it’s more inconvenient,” Evans said. “I had to walk so far. I probably won’t use it in the winter.”

The CTA hopes the Jeffery Jump bus will serve as a case study for improving bus transit across the city. The CTA is partnering with the Chicago Department of Transportation to evaluate and develop Bus Rapid Transit routes for Ashland and Western avenues and the Loop.

The Jeffery Jump has the same $2.25 fare as other CTA buses. Updated bus stations with new sidewalk surfaces and more weather protection have been placed along the route.

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