The Chicago Transit Authority, joined by federal officials and Mayor Richard M. Daley, this morning announced a $135 million federal grant to reduce traffic congestion in Chicago. The cornerstone of the plan includes the development of four Bus Rapid Transit (“BRT”) routes.
The first of the four BRT routes is scheduled to open sometime next year. The routes will incorporate a combination of several key initiatives aimed at making the service more attractive than a traditional bus route. Stops will be placed every four to five blocks and feature a kiosk for pre-paying fares, along with LED signage displaying the arrival time of the next bus. When a bus arrives, customers will be able to board using both the front and rear doors. Traffic signal prioritization will be put in place to reduce the amount of time buses spend waiting at red lights.
No announcement was made regarding which four corridors would receive the BRT service.
The traffic congestion initiative will also be used for the purchase of variable fee parking meters to be installed in the downtown area. The meters will allow the city to charge a premium for parking during peak hours. The goal of the increased parking fees, combined with the CTA’s BRT routes, is to discourage the use of private cars in favor of public transit.
The BRT service will utilize hybrid articulated buses, which the CTA “agreed to lease”:http://www.chicagobus.org/news/hybrid-articulated-lease earlier this year at a cost of approximately $13.4 million per year. The first prototype is scheduled to arrive in August, with delivery of 150 vehicles scheduled to be completed by Summer 2009.