Did You Know?

Only 11 percent of Chicagoland residents ride transit to work.

Pop-up bus lanes coming to Chicago Ave and 79th St. 

The Chicago Department of Transportation and the Chicago Transit Authority are rolling out a new pilot that will implement “pop up essential bus lanes” on two major corridors along two of the highest ridership bus routes in Chicago. 

One will be on 79th Street between Cicero and Western, a total of three miles, and the other on Chicago Avenue between Laramie and Ashland, a total of 4.6 miles. The right hand travel lane will be converted into a bus only lane using tape and signage.

This initiative is a step in the right direction toward more effective and equitable transportation on the South and West Sides of Chicago. A fast, reliable bus trip is also a safer bus trip during COVID-19. It’s encouraging to see this roll out as part of the response to mobility needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Active Transportation Alliance has advocated for a network of bus lanes since the release of our Back on the Bus report in 2017, followed by our Bus Friendly Streets Report Cards in 2018. More recently, we have been advocating for 30 miles of bus lanes by the end of 2021, with a strong emphasis for 10 miles by the end of 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During our COVID-19 listening tour, people across the region told us buses remain a critical lifeline for Chicagoland communities but expressed frustration with the frequency and reliability of service in many areas.

Thank you to the hundreds of advocates who emailed their elected officials in support of this goal! This will be the first time the city of Chicago will have a continuous bus only lane longer than a mile. This is a win for bus service in Chicago and in communities that rely on buses to get around the city.

There’s still time to impact next year’s budget and make sure this is just the start of a citywide bus network. Chicago residents: take action now!

Bunching and more recently crowding have been constant issues with these bus routes. The #79 bus route scored an F for bunching and bus speed on our Bus Friendly Streets Report Cards. The #66 Chicago Ave. bus route also scored an F.

Both routes routinely rank as two of the highest ridership routes even throughout the pandemic. That means they’re also two of the most crowded during COVID according to CTA’s bus ridership dashboard.

In June 2020, the 79th Street bus averaged 11,149 trips per weekday, down from 23,624 last year. The Chicago Ave bus averaged 7,062 trips, down from 21,973 in 2019.

The dedicated bus only lanes should speed up service and move buses more efficiently throughout that corridor.

These recovery lanes will be in place for six months and will be evaluated at that pointWithin the next couple of weeks, construction will begin, and that process will take approximately 3 to 4 weeks. There are no plans for enforcement – so advocates please help us in spread the word! 

This is a great win for more equitable public transportation in Chicago and is a step closer to our goal of 30-miles of bus lanes to be rolled out by the end of 2021. 


This post was written by Jamaine Alberto Gooding, Bus Organizing Fellow at the Active Transportation Alliance.