Coming this fall: Rapid transit buses to ‘Jump’ ahead of traffic
BY TINA SFONDELES Transportation reporter firstname.lastname@example.org September 18, 2012 6:18PM
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), with its partner the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), today announced the brand name for its upcoming new, faster bus service on Jeffery Boulevard: the Jeffery Jump.
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:22PM
The CTA bus service that will get some South Side riders a straight shot downtown during rush hours now has a name: the Jeffery Jump.
Beginning in November from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m., a lane will be set aside for buses between 67th and 83rd streets for the city’s first attempt at bus rapid transit. And between 73rd and 84th streets, buses will get priority treatment at stop lights — green lights will be extended and red lights shortened.
Also, a queue jump on northbound Jeffery at Anthony Avenue will provide a bypass lane to let buses go through an intersection with its own traffic signal. The Jump will stop about every half mile, but local service will still be provided by the No. 15 Jeffery local route.
Both the bypass lane and the traffic priority signals aren’t ready for the launch. They’ll be introduced next year, a CTA spokesman said.
The CTA says buses will get riders to Metra’s Ogilvie and Union Stations downtown an estimated five to seven minutes earlier for both morning and evening commutes.
On Tuesday, the CTA unveiled the brand name, which it says will let riders “jump” ahead of traffic.
It’s not just a name. Bus rapid transit buses will look a bit different. They’ll be wrapped in bright blue with a Jump logo. Other improvements include lighted bus shelters with LED displays, Jump-branded information kiosks and bike racks and benches.
This is a pilot program for the city, and both the CTA and the city’s Department of Transportation have high hopes for more rapid bus transit service. The Jeffery Jump will serve as a foundation for future corridors planned for Western and Ashland avenues, as well as an east-west corridor in the Loop.
The city has awarded a $3.5 million contract to Sumit Construction Co. to install 16 miles of express lanes on Jeffery.
Last month, CTA President Forrest Claypool said the bus rapid transit on Jeffery will cut commute times for customers, but will also offer up some lessons on what can be applied to a future, more broader bus rapid transit plan in the city.
Joanna Trotter, community development director at the Metropolitan Planning Council says there’s also an economic advantage to bus rapid transit in Chicago.
“The elements of Bus Rapid Transit being tested on Jeffery will help inform Chicago’s development of BRT [bus rapid transit], which has great potential to better connect people to places they need and want to go, and be a magnet for economic investment along the routes,” Trotter said. “Chicagoans will have the opportunity to learn more about BRT and help shape plans for a potential route along Western and Ashland corridors this fall.”
The project is funded by an $11 million federal grant, which was awarded to the CTA in 2010.
Transportation experts say bus rapid transit helps decrease traffic congestion and gets riders where they’re going faster.