Chicago’s first bus rapid transit corridor dubbed the Loop Link is set to open, on schedule, on Sunday, December 20—just in time for winter. The Link which has been under construction for nearly 10 months and caused horrific traffic problems during construction should speed things up for commuters.
Although the new service is expected to more than double the the average speed of CTA buses traveling through the busiest sections of downtown don't think you'll be able to sleep in with the time you'll be saving.
The average speed on routes through the middle of downtown was 3 mph--now the buses should be able to sail along at speeds of 7 mph saving an estimated 7.5 minutes on a mile-long ride.
Other improvements include:
- covered stations equipped with Bus Tracker displays
- safer boarding with raised platforms
- more seating for waiting passengers
- traffic signal upgrades that provide buses an early green light
- AND paying before boarding (coming soon). According to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) they are continuing to test technology that would allow riders to pay before they board the bus and speed up the boarding process.
The Loop Link is designed to mimic a railway where the buses run down a dedicated track (lane) rather than having to dart back and forth in heavy traffic.
The dedicated lanes will run approximately 2 miles on Washington and Madison and will also run on Clinton and Canal. On weekdays, 1,000 buses travel these routes taking passengers to work, shopping or to connect with attractions in Streeterville, River North, Navy Pier, the Museum Campus and other destinations.
In conjunction with today's announcement, the Active Transportation Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Ron Burke reacting to the news: “The Loop Link is an exciting improvement for the thousands of Chicagoans who ride the bus, bike and walk across the Loop every day.
Drivers may disagree with Burke as the Loop Link has taken away one travel lane on each of four downtown streets and some on-street parking places.
However there is good news for Chicago bikers as the city is adding new protected bike lanes on Washington Blvd. and Randolph St., plus a two-way protected bike lane on Clinton St. that’s already up and running.
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