Sometimes things are nice

Very  briefly, before a trip to China (yay!):

1. December 2014 was the first month of year-over-year ridership growth for CTA buses since November 2012. (Zero point one percent growth, but you know, it’s the trend that counts.) January 2015 was the second. (5.6% – though from a very low baseline of Polar Vortex-ified January 2014. Still down from January 2013.) Eagerly awaiting later numbers to see if this is a turnaround that will stick.

2. Pace, Chicago’s suburban bus service, has launched the website for Pulse, its rapid bus network initiative. Eventually, Pace plans 24 routes throughout the six-county area – though mostly serving suburban Cook. The first two lines to be implemented will be along Milwaukee Avenue, going northwest from the Jefferson Park Blue Line station, and Dempster Street, from Evanston to O’Hare.

The lines will have stops roughly every half mile, raised stations with real-time arrival information and heating, and limited transit-signal technology to give the buses priority through traffic lights. (Though only when it doesn’t affect car traffic, which is a pretty big “only.”)

The most important thing, though, might be the frequency, which is planned for every 10 minutes during peak periods and 15 minutes the rest of the day. Fifteen minutes is the outer edge of acceptable, but for a suburban bus network, it’s pretty exciting. Kudos to Pace.

Rendering of a Pulse station.
Rendering of a Pulse station.

5 thoughts on “Sometimes things are nice

  1. The Pulse news has me very excited. Being in the suburbs without a car can be pretty rough. This will help a lot. But considering the proposed cuts to transit funding, will they still be able to get this going?

    1. Good question! The site says most of their money for construction is coming from a federal grant, but there’s also an operations cost. We’ll see.

  2. Hi there, I follow your blog and positively love it. Something you might find interesting (you may already know about all of this, but just in case):
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    I have worked with Leah and Jawanza for many years and their dedication to housing as a human right is something to be applauded. If you have time to watch, I encourage you to do so, if you have time to share I also encourage you to do so through your own social media outlets. Even if you disagree with the fight, others you share with may not. Dena Giacometti

    Program Director – Adult Education

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  3. Regarding the Milwaukee Line: I’m guessing Pace has studied this, but I’m curious to see if rush period service (maybe 3-4 runs in the weekday a.m. and 3-4 runs in the weekday p.m.) all the way to/from downtown using the express lanes of the Kennedy between Jefferson Park and would be feasible–not in the arterial BRT format, of course, but just simple express bus format. The route could possibly terminate in River North on the other side of the Ohio Street bridge. I know this sounds like providing redundant service because the Blue line and UP-NW already serve downtown from that point, but for prospective riders who live in Niles and/or along Milwaukee but too far to walk to the JP station, knowing you could ride the Pulse all the way downtown gives you a Metra-like option (far leaner, less expensive), and of course, Niles currently does not have Metra. It’s a community with a population that is teeming with potential transit riders (something I’m guessing Pace DID study as it decided to pick this corridor first for the Pulse) as it’s a very popular immigrant/gateway community (“ethnoburb”), and it has a good amount of affordable housing in fairly dense neighborhoods (inner suburb scale, walkable). Not to mention that service to/from River North, where there is a fairly large and growing amount of employment, could really encourage ridership. As it stands, you’d have to transfer to a train, and from Jefferson Park to downtown on the Blue line, you’re looking at least 30-40 minutes in ride time with all of the stops and/or platform waiting time if you’re trying to catch the UP-NW. Not having to transfer from the bus but simply having to ride in traffic on the highway should shave time and be a much more pleasant riding experience.

    As an alternative, CTA could intentionally run a blue line train express from Jefferson Park. There’s still a transfer involved, but the trip time would be decidedly less.

    Given Metra funding and service cuts that, let’s be honest, are definitely coming, you might be surprised how many displaced Metra riders (UP-NW and MD-N?) riders this could help, too.

    1. You must not drive the Kennedy often. Starting at Jefferson Park, the Blue Line will absolutely beat the express lanes during rush periods. If your destination is north of Ohio or east of Michigan, though, the bus option might be faster… but that’s assuming the bus would go directly to those places.

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