After three years of relentless aldermanic pressure and rider complaints, the CTA will bring back the #31 31st Street bus and a crucial portion of the #11 Lincoln as part of a pilot project.
The CTA last week also set Dec. 21 as the date for resumption of the rush-hour express bus service on Ashland and Western avenues.
The latter was expected; the former was a surprise.
The #31 was cut in 1997 and part of the #11 route was eliminated in 2012 as part of the CTA's de-crowding program. The CTA added service then to 48 bus routes and most train lines, but cut or shortened another 12 bus routes, including the #11.
That raised the hackles of folks particularly on the North Side when service along Lincoln Avenue was cut from the Fullerton Red/Brown station to the Western Brown Line stop. Alderman Ameya Pawar (47th Ward) and neighbors fought the whole time to bring back that portion of the #11, and has won so far. But no timetable has been set for when the pilots start.
Both North and South Side riders will benefit from renewed rush hour express service on the #X9 Ashland Express and the X49 Western Express routes.
Beginning on Monday, Dec. 21, the two routes will run during the morning and afternoon rush periods. Express buses will make stops roughly every half-mile and at all bus and rail transfer points. From the CTA release:
As part of the three-phase effort to improve speeds along the two routes, the CTA will also be optimizing bus stop spacing on the local routes by removing some of the least-used stops. This will allow 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.
When implemented, up to 85% of all trips on Ashland and Western will be unaffected by bus stop relocations, while all trips will benefit from faster service. Feedback provided by the public will be taken into consideration for route stops.
Coming in later phases, Transit Signal Priority (TSP) upgrades will make it possible for buses running behind schedule to communicate with traffic signals along each corridor to hold green lights longer or to shorten red lights. TSP installation work is being spearheaded by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).
Timeframe for implementation:
Spring 2016: Ashland from Cermak to 95th Street
End of Year 2016: Western from Howard to 79th Street
End of Year 2017: Ashland from Cermak to Irving Park Road
All four route resumptions are welcome extra service.
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