CTA teases us with Jeffery "BRT"; hopes for "full-blown" model on Western

In his column on Monday, the Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch pointed out what the CTA’s own president has been saying all along: the Jeffery Boulevard bus rapid transit (BRT) project “won’t be so rapid.”

And we knew that. But it’s a start.

President Forrest Claypool told CTA Tattler more than a year ago he is hopeful that what the CTA learns from “BRT light on Jeffery” (his words) will inform the future. “True full-blown BRT could happen on Western,” Claypool added in the July 2011 interview. “It offers the best opportunity and connects all our rail station. That’s the beauty of it. It would be like the Circle Line – all those stations will be connected more cheaply. And, if done properly, it should enhance the residential and commercial property values.”

Claypool also covered the Jeffery and Western Avenue projects in another Tattler interview two months ago:

Claypool acknowledges that the upcoming Jeffery service, with a budget of just $11 million, isn’t the full package. “I don’t even like to call it BRT,” he says. “It is a first stage, faster, and hopefully more convenient service for riders.” That service will incorporate some elements of BRT, Claypool says, mentioning jump queues at lights that allow buses to get a head start on cars, dedicated bus lanes, fewer stops and elaborated street furniture and shelters.

What the Jeffrey project won’t include is raised platforms for level boarding, pre-paid fares, and multiple entry doors, all of which help eliminate the dreadful wait as passengers shuffle through the front door of a typical bus.

The big barrier, Claypool say, is the expense. “You could spend a fortune on the gold standard of BRT like they have in Bogotá (Colombia), but if you could deliver 90 percent of the benefits of that type of service at a fraction of the cost, wouldn’t you do it? Wouldn’t you do it at more locations because you’ve stretched the dollars?”

That sounds like we could see several variations on faster bus services, starting later this year. “There is no one size fits all. Maybe some types of Bus Rapid Transit might be appropriate for downtown, but not for Western Avenue. We will learn a lot from (the Jeffery Corridor) this fall, and those lessons will be incorporated into our plans for Western and downtown.”

The CTA promised to share a draft plan for the Western BRT project from the June open house this fall. Then the funding needs to be secured and the project built. And Chicago may finally have BRT that might actually be rapid.


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  • It can't connect with the Green Line as there isn't an L station at Lake & Western.
    I've never been able to figure that one out as there used to be stations at both Oakley/Lake & Campbell/Lake, but not Western.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    If your observation is based on ""It offers the best opportunity and connects all our rail station" it won't connect with all 146(?)* Maybe he meant Metra stations, since it is close to 2 or 3.

    Anyway, on your second sentence, I'm sure it depends on what was the traffic pattern in 1892. Probably digging into Chicago-l.or will yield some results, including that Western was widened in 1930. One doesn't know if CMC was operating on Oakley because it was the artery, or because it got Park Commissioners' permission to run there. For that matter, how is the Heart of Chicago Italian area still on Oakley?

    *Is Adham coming out to set the new record as promised, or is he waiting for 9 to close?

  • In reply to jack:

    While CMC did run a bus on Oakley, Surface Lines had the streetcar on Western.
    The lack of a Lake/Western station is just bizarre.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Probably less bizarre than the Congress Expressway not having an exit at Kedzie or Pulaski but having them at Sacramento Blvd. and Independence Blvd. Maybe in 1957, someone actually thought that it was to be a part of Burnham's Boulevard System.

  • In reply to jack:

    The Congress exits were set up to accommodate Sears employees at the Homan Ave. catalog plant.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    In that the complex starts at Kedzie, and there are pictures of the Kedzie streetcar pulling out of there, I doubt it.

    Maybe Independence (which then should have been named Homan), but sure doesn't explain Sacramento.

    Also, if our conception of expressways is to facilitate truck traffic, having exits on boulevards where commercial traffic is barred sure doesn't foster that.

  • In reply to jack:

    When the Congress opened in the 1950s, there weren't any westbound exits from Ashland to Homan, the Garfield L had been torn down & was running at grade along the north side of the x-way until the median tracks were built.
    It was so incomplete that in August 1953, there was an enormous rainstorm that caused the x-way to be closed for several days as there was 8 feet of water at Halsted. The pumps hadn't been installed yet!

  • "Then the funding needs to be secured and the project built."

    As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, it won't be 5309 funding based on the new definition of BRT in the MAP-21 transportation bill.

    Maybe Claypool recognizes this, as this morning's article said: He is careful to avoid calling it BRT, or even "BRT Lite" anymore, a term he initially adopted after taking office more than a year ago.

    And the "network" is essentially recreating the X route system that was dismantled.

    But, as usual, the consultant got the grant.

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