Commuters, business owners divided on Bus Rapid Transit plan

October 18, 2012

Tricia Bobeda

Courtesy of CTA
Chicago officials say they are considering this design, among others, for bus-rapid-transit routes between Howard and 95th streets.

Chicago’s new Bus Rapid Transit plan calls for bus-only lanes on two of the city's busiest avenues.

City officials said adding the bus-only lanes could make Ashland and Western avenue buses almost as fast as CTA Red Line trains. The rapid transit buses would run between Howard Street on the north and 95th Street on the south.

But some of the design proposals for adding bus lanes suggest leaving only one lane in each direction for cars and/or eliminating some street parking.

That worries local business owners like Joey Vartanian. He owns Rotton Johnny’s restaurant on Ashland Avenue.

“Narrowing it down to one lane of traffic would be a nightmare,” he said. “I don’t see Ashland being wide enough to accommodate all this. Parking is a problem. Parking is a premium.”

Michael Yeh uses the Ashland bus to get to his job at a dental office in Ukrainian Village.

He likes the idea of a faster commute, even if it means some construction in the short-term.

“You know it might make things maybe even more congested for those couple years,” Yeh said. “But in the long run I think it’d do more good than not.”

A CTA open house to discuss the transit plan is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Lane Tech High School.