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Chicago’s first protected bike lane on Kinzie St. increased ridership by 55 percent without increasing traffic congestion for cars.

Letter to the editor disputes unfounded claims about BRT on Ashland

In response to a recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times that highlighted one retired traffic engineer's opposition to the Ashland Ave. Bus Rapid Transit project, Active Trans teamed up with several local transit experts to send a letter to the editor. /

The letter to the editor debunks the claim made by the engineer that the Bus Rapid Transit project proposed for Ashland Ave. would be a dagger in the heart of Chicago. 

The reality is that this project will help the city thrive by providing better access to jobs and services, reducing traffic congestion and making our streets safer and more inviting.

The claims made by the retired Chicago traffic engineer have also been addressed in Streetsblog Chicago

Here's the letter to the editor recently printed in the Sun-Times: 

As transportation professionals, we disagree with claims by a retired transportation engineer about the proposed Ashland rapid transit line. (“Engineer: Ashland Ave. transit project won’t work.”) He over-emphasizes the negative traffic impacts of building the line, which are actually quite modest, while overlooking the negative impacts of not building it.

For example, forecasts show that thousands more people each year will need to move through the Ashland corridor, yet because the streets are not getting wider, traffic problems will ensue. Transit is the only way to add more people in the same amount of space while managing congestion and improving mobility.The new Ashland line will be more reliable and move passengers nearly twice as fast as the current Ashland bus. It also creates a crucial north-south connection that circumvents downtown and connects to 37 bus lines, seven CTA stations and two Metra stations.

Passengers won’t have to go all the way downtown ­­­— or take a slow moving bus — to connect with train lines for trips outside downtown. All of this makes tens of thousands of additional jobs accessible by transit, according to the Metropolitan Planning Council. This is especially important for people who cannot afford cars. With 99 schools in the Ashland corridor, the new transit line will also help students get to school and back home. But the Ashland line benefits the city as a whole, because everyone relies on transit in one way or another. Most of us ride transit at least occasionally, and even when driving we benefit because transit keeps cars off of congested roads and contributes to the vitality of a great urban region.

The city and CTA should make reasonable design changes to address local concerns and then proceed with this crucial north-south rapid transit artery, something transportation planners have wanted to build for many years. We’re pleased it’s finally going to happen.

Randy Blankenhorn, executive director, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

Joseph Schwieterman, director, Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, DePaul University

Steve Schlickman, executive director, UIC Urban Transportation Center

Ron Burke, executive director, Active Transportation Alliance

 Let your city officials know that you want to see BRT on Ashland. Be sure to let them know you're a supporter. 

Image courtesy of CTA