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Bus riders account for more than 20 percent of people using Lake Shore Drive every day while taking up a fraction of the space that cars do.

CTA plans to remove local bus stops on Ashland, Western

As part of an ongoing effort to speed up bus service on two of most popular bus routes in the city, CTA is preparing to remove some of the least-used stops on the #9 Ashland and #49 Western buses.

The agency says 85 percent of all trips in the corridors will be unaffected by stop consolidation, and that the changes will save riders up to 7.5 minutes per trip. (See a map of the stops proposed to bemaintained and discontinued.)

If approved by the CTA board, the changes would take effect in late December. Riders are encouraged to provide feedback on the proposal by email at ashlandwesternbus@transitchicago.com or phone at 1-888-YOUR-CTA.

Speeding up local service is a worthy goal and the majority of riders will not be affected by the changes – they’ll just experience faster trips.

Many city transit agencies are moving towards a one-quarter mile standard for bus stop spacing to speed up trips, rather than an every block or one-eighth of a mile spacing as generally exists on Ashland and Western.

Still, some riders are not able to easily access stops that are spaced further apart, particularly seniors and people with disabilities. This is why rider feedback will be critical before and after the changes take effect to ensure everyone maintains safe and convenient transit access.

The proposal comes as CTA plans to add express bus service on Ashland and Western later this year. Express buses will run during rush hour and stops will be spaced one half-mile apart and at rail transfer points, saving riders as much as 13 minutes per trip.

In addition, the CTA is adding Traffic Signal Priority (TSP) to both corridors, allowing buses to hold green lights longer and shorten red lights when approaching intersections.

See an overview of all of CTA’s planned improvements on Ashland and Western.

While these incremental improvements will speed up buses by 2-3 miles per hour, we’re hopeful these are only the first steps toward Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Ashland.

Once the proposed BRT is built on Ashland, people will be traveling twice as fast as the current buses — thanks to adding dedicated bus lanes, prepaid boarding and enhanced stations.