Web Extra: The Case for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

May 13, 2008

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The Cook-DuPage Corridor Study and Plan is part of an ambitious plan to reduce traffic congestion in the area that straddles Cook and DuPage counties. Public comments on the plan's broadest goals have been positive, though there's been concerted opposition to specific aspects of the proposal. In particular, the project incorporates two road projects. These would be the widening of Interstate 290 along Oak Park (a project the Illinois Department of Transportaion had pursued independent of mass transit), and the creation of a broad road that would run west from O'Hare Airport. Most public comments have been negative toward the road projects.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology's (CNT) been split on the proposal; it supports much of the plan, but, as with the public comments, it's asked transit officials to back away from I-290 widening, even though that project might include some kind of “bus rapid transit.” BRT is a broad term for bus lines that may include several of the following: bus-only lanes, dedicated stations where riders pay before boarding, and buses with sensors that extend green signals in favor of bus traffic. The CNT's Vice President for Policy Jackie Grimshaw says there could be a place for BRT in Chicagoland's transit mix, if it's done right.