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CTA Bus Rapid Transit (take two)


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#1 BusHunter

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Posted 05 May 2010 - 12:59 PM

CTA appears to be throwing their hat in the ring again for BRT funding. Here is the complete story from the Chicago Tribune

#2 sw4400

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Posted 05 May 2010 - 01:14 PM

Tried to pull up the New Flyer website, but it's about as slow as a Flyer D901... Anyhow, the CTA will need to order about 20-40 of those BRT-Style New Flyer Buses for this project(presuming they go with New Flyer for this project).

#3 jajuan

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Posted 05 May 2010 - 04:35 PM

Tried to pull up the New Flyer website, but it's about as slow as a Flyer D901... Anyhow, the CTA will need to order about 20-40 of those BRT-Style New Flyer Buses for this project(presuming they go with New Flyer for this project).

Actually they're going to need 131 artics, or as the media likes to call them 'accordion-style buses', according to the article if they get approved for BRT this time around. A key difference from 2008, when 1st approval was made and take one of this was planned and attempted, to remember is the NABIs are now gone and the CTA replaced them with the 4000s. I don't see how they're going to do BRT with only 20-40 additional artics when the current ones are now used to varying degrees depending upon route, time of day, and day of the week on 6, 12, 14, 15, 22, 26, X28, 82, 134, 135, 136, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 151 and 156.

#4 Busjack

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Posted 05 May 2010 - 04:57 PM

CTA appears to be throwing their hat in the ring again for BRT funding. Here is the complete story from the Chicago Tribune

Actually the CTA Tattler reported about a month ago that Crain's had reported it, so that is par for the Tribune.

I also pretty thoroughly debunked it there, so I am not going to repeat it here.

With regard to the Tribune report, note all the references to if it is funded. Let me know when it is funded. Until then, I am putting it on my radar as being as likely to be implemented as the Pace-Tollway proposal being funded by TIGER. Looking back at the Tattler post, I see that Hilkevitch didn't even mention the condition in Crain's that the transportation bill that might fund it hasn't even been approved by Congress.

Tried to pull up the New Flyer website, but it's about as slow as a Flyer D901

On the other hand, New Flyer was quite clear a couple of days ago that the money for the supposed CTA contract has not come through,and that production has been diverted.

So, don't count your tin cans until they hatch (to mix a metaphor).


#5 Busjack

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 11:31 AM

Update to the post immediately above: Rereading the Tribune article also indicates that, again, Hilkevitch has misstated the facts of the prior grant. When the grant documents were on the dot.gov site, I pointed out that it required (1) the parking meter "concession," or lease, and (2) increasing parking taxes downtown. He has those confused. The parking meter concession was issued in time, but the city council balked on the parking tax increase.

#6 BusHunter

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 02:42 PM

Actually the CTA Tattler reported about a month ago that Crain's had reported it, so that is par for the Tribune.

I also pretty thoroughly debunked it there, so I am not going to repeat it here.

With regard to the Tribune report, note all the references to if it is funded. Let me know when it is funded. Until then, I am putting it on my radar as being as likely to be implemented as the Pace-Tollway proposal being funded by TIGER. Looking back at the Tattler post, I see that Hilkevitch didn't even mention the condition in Crain's that the transportation bill that might fund it hasn't even been approved by Congress.


On the other hand, New Flyer was quite clear a couple of days ago that the money for the supposed CTA contract has not come through,and that production has been diverted.

So, don't count your tin cans until they hatch (to mix a metaphor).

It would be nice if it they finally got it, (I believe we're now the biggest U.S. city without BRT) but I think the BRT routes should be changed to reflect some of the lost X service. Some routes are really hurting because of that loss. Also I believe the wider streets could better function with the loss of a lane to BRT. Although I believe the lanes could be better served if they merged them with a HOV lane. There was also news coverage on WGN where they showed Western service. (even though BRT is not covering that yet) To me that would make way more sense than Halsted to have a BRT pilot. It could run together with the traffic light prioritization project underway already on Western. I just hope this time we get it.

#7 Busjack

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 06:56 AM

...but I think the BRT routes should be changed to reflect some of the lost X service. Some routes are really hurting because of that loss. Also I believe the wider streets could better function with the loss of a lane to BRT. ... There was also news coverage on WGN where they showed Western service. (even though BRT is not covering that yet) To me that would make way more sense than Halsted to have a BRT pilot. It could run together with the traffic light prioritization project underway already on Western. ...

If you look back at what I said I wouldn't repeat, I agreed with someone that Western and Ashland should get it first.

I also wonder how CTA can propose new service, where, in addition to not having restored lost service (that according to productivity reports was working on Ashland and Western), it hasn't identified a source of operating money to run it, "assuming their application for $150 million is approved." No indication there of any source of operating, and out of the supposedly $193M of federal and matching funds discussed, at least $104M would just be for the buses. Of course, we could speculate that either the economy will turn by then--not likely given how this state is run--or that the plan is to pull the underlying routes.

Again, maybe we are talking fantasy here, but in response to sw's and jajuan's debate, the last time around, the grant was supposedly for 58 buses to do the same thing (assuming, which we probably can't, that there was a relationship between acquiring WMATA options and the BRT project). and, despite jajuan's counting, if 14 is still up, it already has artics, NABI or no NABI.

But, as I implied in several places, I am still waiting for the 50 Pace Compobuses to arrive, which they won't. Or the 25 Compobuses that the FTA said about in 2003 were to be used to start BRT service on Western. Unless Daley has some magical powers over both Congress and Ray Lahoud (possible, but...) this seems to me to be about as likely.

#8 jajuan

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 02:11 AM

If you look back at what I said I wouldn't repeat, I agreed with someone that Western and Ashland should get it first.

I also wonder how CTA can propose new service, where, in addition to not having restored lost service (that according to productivity reports was working on Ashland and Western), it hasn't identified a source of operating money to run it, "assuming their application for $150 million is approved." No indication there of any source of operating, and out of the supposedly $193M of federal and matching funds discussed, at least $104M would just be for the buses. Of course, we could speculate that either the economy will turn by then--not likely given how this state is run--or that the plan is to pull the underlying routes.

Again, maybe we are talking fantasy here, but in response to sw's and jajuan's debate, the last time around, the grant was supposedly for 58 buses to do the same thing (assuming, which we probably can't, that there was a relationship between acquiring WMATA options and the BRT project). and, despite jajuan's counting, if 14 is still up, it already has artics, NABI or no NABI.

But, as I implied in several places, I am still waiting for the 50 Pace Compobuses to arrive, which they won't. Or the 25 Compobuses that the FTA said about in 2003 were to be used to start BRT service on Western. Unless Daley has some magical powers over both Congress and Ray Lahoud (possible, but...) this seems to me to be about as likely.

I agree with you that this won't likely happen given they couldn't afford to keep the levels they had when they made a go for BRT the first time. You're right that it's hard to see how they can be making a go for this again if they don't remove whatever regular local/express bus route that's already on whatever corridors they seek implementing BRT service since there's no mention of operating funds to sustain the routes after implementation. As far as the accounting of artics, from looking at the article again the 131 artics stated in the proposal must be to meet full implementation. However, that could still point to keeping current service if they're stating a need of 131 artics for BRT. Even if by some stroke of magic they get this, seeing as Chicago, 79th, Halsted and Jeffery are again proposed as startup corridors I'd say the initial estimate for needed artics is closer to 40 than 20 since sw is also apparently reading this as adding service rather than replacing regular service with BRT.

#9 artthouwill

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 09:46 AM

Actually they're going to need 131 artics, or as the media likes to call them 'accordion-style buses', according to the article if they get approved for BRT this time around. A key difference from 2008, when 1st approval was made and take one of this was planned and attempted, to remember is the NABIs are now gone and the CTA replaced them with the 4000s. I don't see how they're going to do BRT with only 20-40 additional artics when the current ones are now used to varying degrees depending upon route, time of day, and day of the week on 6, 12, 14, 15, 22, 26, X28, 82, 134, 135, 136, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 151 and 156.

If I remember correctly, the 4000s were intended for these purposes BEFORE the NABI's hit the scrapheap. So the new buses, assuming we get this again, would have to be slated for this service as well.

While Ashland and Western seem to be logical choices for this experiment, I believe there are reasons 79th, Halsted, Jeffery, and Chicago AVe were chosen. All four streets are single lane for much of their length and are very heavily congested and supposedly have peak direction no parking zones. All four bus routes are heavily used. Whereas you have very good traffic flow along Ashland and Western because they are two lanes in each direction, that is not so with these streets. I will just make a scant mention of the nondiscriminating policy at CTA, which means disadvantaged neighborhoods on Chicago's south and west sides will get a benefit from this.

Of the four routes, only the 14 is already running artics, so it would only be a matter of diverting those elsewhere. Based on what I read, the other 3 would operate X-like express service stopping every 1/2 mile to a mile (I think 1/2 mile is more feasible). These buses would have traffic signal priority. But who gets priority at 79th & Halsted, or 79th & Jeffery, or Halsted & Chicago?

#10 Busjack

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 10:06 AM

If I remember correctly, the 4000s were intended for these purposes BEFORE the NABI's hit the scrapheap. So the new buses, assuming we get this again, would have to be slated for this service as well.

I do remember correctly, and the leased ones (4000-4149) were supposed to replace 6000s on a 3 for 4 basis. The inference for the 58 (4150-4207) was that since the options were obtained (according to New Flyer) at about the time BRT was floated, they were supposed to be for that. Of course, neither happened. Whether either indicates that more buses would have to be acquired for this project is a matter of speculation, anyway, as is the project itself.

While Ashland and Western seem to be logical choices for this experiment, I believe there are reasons 79th, Halsted, Jeffery, and Chicago AVe were chosen. All four streets are single lane for much of their length and are very heavily congested and supposedly have peak direction no parking zones. All four bus routes are heavily used. Whereas you have very good traffic flow along Ashland and Western because they are two lanes in each direction, that is not so with these streets. I will just make a scant mention of the nondiscriminating policy at CTA, which means disadvantaged neighborhoods on Chicago's south and west sides will get a benefit from this.

Acutally, you have it backwards. A street with bad flowing traffic isn't a place where BRT would work, especially ones like 79th, Halsted in Greektown, and Chicago Ave., unless you find a way to get the traffic off the street. Maybe banning parking gets traffic moving, but knowing Chicago drivers, won't get them out of the curb lane.

As far as antidiscrimination, unless you mean discrimination against the minority Caucasian population in Chicago, and I know you don't, the last BRT plan announced did little about that. Jeffery already has express service, and the only other BRT zone in the Black community would have been 79th from Ashland to State. The Halsted zone was going to be either from Congress or Lake to North, and the Chicago express zone would have been east of California.

If they really wanted to do something for the communities that complained about discrimination after the pulling of the X routes, the BRT should be the full length of Ashland and Madison/Washington, and perhaps Western.

Unless there is something different than what Crain's and Hilkevitch announced, there doesn't to seem to be more thinking behind this than we didn't get the last $150M, so here's another shot.

#11 jajuan

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 12:39 PM

I do remember correctly, and the leased ones (4000-4149) were supposed to replace 6000s on a 2 for 3 basis. The inference for the 58 (4150-4207) was that since the options were obtained (according to New Flyer) at about the time BRT was floated, they were supposed to be for that. Of course, neither happened. Whether either indicates that more buses would have to be acquired for this project is a matter of speculation, anyway, as is the project itself.


Acutally, you have it backwards. A street with bad flowing traffic isn't a place where BRT would work, especially ones like 79th, Halsted in Greektown, and Chicago Ave., unless you find a way to get the traffic off the street. Maybe banning parking gets traffic moving, but knowing Chicago drivers, won't get them out of the curb lane.

As far as antidiscrimination, unless you mean discrimination against the minority Caucasian population in Chicago, and I know you don't, the last BRT plan announced did little about that. Jeffery already has express service, and the only other BRT zone in the Black community would have been 79th from Ashland to State. The Halsted zone was going to be either from Congress or Lake to North, and the Chicago express zone would have been east of California.

If they really wanted to do something for the communities that complained about discrimination after the pulling of the X routes, the BRT should be the full length of Ashland and Madison/Washington, and perhaps Western.

Unless there is something different than what Crain's and Hilkevitch announced, there doesn't to seem to be more thinking behind this than we didn't get the last $150M, so here's another shot.

Ignoring the racial subtext brought up at the mention of the antidiscrimination policy because being a Black male living in this city I don't see a racial aspect to how CTA service is provided be it for Black or White communities, Busjack has a point as far as getting the money though now the number is $193M or somewhere in the ballpark according to the article. Now I will say that there are West and South side areas that could benefit from a socioeconomic aspect of looking at it by having quicker service from the experiences told in the Trib, SunTimes and RedEye of commuters going to school or work along the Western, Madison/Washington, and King Drive corridors when asked how they'd have their commutes changed when those X routes got cut. In the whole debate a few months back over whether the South Side was over serviced compared to the North Side it got pointed out rather angrily that the North Side had a higher population density, and I'll point out what I did then that while that statement may be true is what can too easily get conveniently ignored is that those areas with higher population density also benefit from higher median incomes which do still unfortunately put predominantly minority commnunities in the city at a disadvantage today.

#12 Busjack

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 04:57 PM

The only thing to which I would differ is that King Drive has the Green Line within a 1/4 mile from 63rd north. Of course, it was the only street to have limited service from way back until 2010.

#13 Busjack

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 10:52 AM

Looking through various bus transit sits on www.apta.com, I found the following link http://www.rtcsouthe...om/transit/brt/ where the Las Vegas transit system is doing exactly what we're talking about. Dedicated lanes connecting to downtown, the ability to buy transit passes at kiosks before boarding, and sleek buses. I know it costs money and Pace/CTA simply can't afford it right now (especially CTA), but hopefully within the next 5 years, something will generate to the point that it is seriously looked at.

Maybe getting back to a more relevant thread (since you have properly done it to me a couple of times), with regard to ticket checkers on the buses, besides the cost, one would think that the bank smart card system being proposed would eliminate tickets, as well as the boarding time associated with collecting cash fares (which, CTA says, have been reduced to about 6% on most bus lines). Your link to Las Vegas indicates that LV is selling transit cards and passes at the kiosks, not tickets needing inspection (such as the Buffalo LRT sells). As far as buying transit passes at kiosks, CTA could put the card vending machines there, for either current transit cards or the bank ones, assuming that the places are secure enough (I had previously questioned the concept of a prepaid cage area at, say, 87th and Jeffery; I also wonder if a fare card vending machine there would be safe).

In any event, the two distinctions between Las Vegas and CTA are that one wonders if Chicago would give up enough street space to have true BRT, and that all CTA/CDOT BRT proposals are for federal grants, not local money.

#14 BusHunter

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 06:57 AM

Reading the latest post in the more bus moves thread, has me wondering about the Jeffery BRT. I wonder why if they got 11 million dollars for a BRT trial that they elected not to purchase new buses instead of choosing to retrofit the existing NF artics out of 103rd. I'm surprised they didn't go for maybe a 30 bus purchase and a partial retrofit of the 103rd artics. Then the south side could've benefited off the extra artics (especially 77th) The tribune does point out however new buses will be purchased for BRT in the future most likely around the time they move to the ashland or western corridors to expand this beyond the south shore. The retrofits do sound nice with there onboard bustracker capability. (that's something that needs to happen to the whole fleet) most likely riders on the #6 will benefit off this upgrade, using the 103rd equipment. I doubt 53 buses would exclusively be for the #14.

#15 Busjack

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 08:04 AM

Reading the latest post in the more bus moves thread, has me wondering about the Jeffery BRT. I wonder why if they got 11 million dollars for a BRT trial that they elected not to purchase new buses instead of choosing to retrofit the existing NF artics out of 103rd. ...

Claypool said that this was "BRT Light" and it sure is.

The question is fairly easy to answer, and in fact, I answered it to sw when this grant was first announced.

53 DE60LFs, would cost, at the price stated for the stimulus buses (supposedly about $880,000 each) about $47 million. The grant was for $11 million. Not to mention what DE60BRTs would cost.

Thanks for finding the thread, and now to add my two cents:

The only thing innovative here is the Bus Tracker screen in the bus, including indicating when connections can be made to cross-street buses. Most of the rest has already been said by Pace, although they haven't implemented anything, either, except some signal priority.

Also, this is pretty bare bone. Only 2 demonstration stations; the rest get maybe enhanced shelters. One or maybe two queue jumps. Improved traffic signals for about 1.5 miles. No change in parking restrictions, just BUS ONLY painted on the street. No prepaid areas, not that I thought that those would work.


The slide show also indicates that there will essentially be no difference in how 14 and 15 are run, with regard to frequency, service span, stop spacing, etc. The minutes saved, except during rush hour are minuscule (although 5 or 6 minutes during rush hour might be worth it).

Now, I suppose one could ask why the grant was only for $11 million instead of maybe $60 million to do it right, but it was previously discussed that this was shoehorned just to get into the program.

#16 Tcmetro

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 03:07 PM

Here is the presentation: http://www.transitch...play_Boards.pdf

It's not anything fancy, but it could definitely be expanded to other lines as well. If anything, they could add off-board fare payment, which would likely have a substantial effect on run times (although I would imagine that many people already use prepaid cards).

#17 sw4400

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 03:33 PM

This is going to be a confusing BRT System here in Chicago. The CTA is going to use 53 of the 4000-Series New Flyer DE60LF's already here as the BRT Buses. The only difference... a unique identitity and on board displays(something the passengers won't pay attention to). Unless these 53 DE60LF's are re-painted into a new livery, then there's going to be lots of shouting from passengers to the operator about "missed stops", and maybe a physical altercation or two between said passenger(s) and operator, who knows??? And what if there is a shortage of these 53 for some reason, what do you use to run the BRT service then?

#18 Busjack

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 08:22 PM

.... If anything, they could add off-board fare payment, which would likely have a substantial effect on run times (although I would imagine that many people already use prepaid cards).


Someone from CTA mentioned that cash fares are only 6% of fares collected city wide on the bus system (this was in connection with loading being slow at Chicago Union Station because it is about 14% cash fares).

  • This is probably due to CTA's policy change of not selling transfers with cash bus fares.
  • The Union Station one seems notwithstanding that there is a fare card machine in the lobby.
  • The biggest problem CTA has is that areas like the SE side are disproportionately low in having fare card sales places (at least Chicago Card recharge stations). Maybe the couple of kiosks in the couple of BRT stations cures that. However, given the neighborhoods. I wouldn't be surprised if the kiosks are shot up and cleaned out.

This is going to be a confusing BRT System here in Chicago. The CTA is going to use 53 of the 4000-Series New Flyer DE60LF's already here as the BRT Buses. The only difference... a unique identitity and on board displays(something the passengers won't pay attention to). Unless these 53 DE60LF's are re-painted into a new livery, then there's going to be lots of shouting from passengers to the operator about "missed stops", and maybe a physical altercation or two between said passenger(s) and operator, who knows??? And what if there is a shortage of these 53 for some reason, what do you use to run the BRT service then?


  • The stopping pattern for 14 isn't going to change. So if the passengers aren't shouting now, they won't be shouting then.
  • Nothing says that the 53 is the slideshow doesn't include spares. If it doesn't, you are assuming that someone won't get on a bus with a 14 Jeffery Express sign just because it doesn't have a BRT wrap. Sam or someone is complaining about the number of 1000s on 103 routes--do you think people refuse to ride them because they have an orange sign saying that they go to 103 and Stony, but don't say "Clean Air Hybrid Bus?"
Simply put, this won't be the Cleveland Health Line, the NY Nova LFS Select Bus Service line, or anything else pictured in the slide show. It is the same old 14, with most buses having a wrap and a Bus Tracker internal sign. That's it.

#19 Wolfman

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 12:53 AM

The only difference... a unique identitity and on board displays(something the passengers won't pay attention to). Unless these 53 DE60LF's are re-painted into a new livery, then there's going to be lots of shouting from passengers to the operator about "missed stops", and maybe a physical altercation or two between said passenger(s) and operator, who knows???



Very good point.

Back in the day (30 years ago), we used to have the 80A Irving Park Express. In the evening rush hour, that ran from the Pulaski Blue Line west out to Cumberland. Problem was, in the evenings, we had a number of passengers that "played dumb" and boarded at the turnaround at Avondale and would ride to their non-expres stop street. Yes, they knew it was the express. They also knew it was a faster ride, and if we wouldn't let them off, they simply pulled the emergency on the back doors causing the bus to "stonewall", and they'd get out like nothing happened. Make a case out of it, and they's report you to your bosses (who never had your back). Thing was, they were back on the bus the next day, and the one after that.

Yup. For BRT to work, you have to make it identifiable.
You also want "curb appeal".

Sorry, the 4000s have very little "curb appeal".

#20 Busjack

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 09:20 AM

... Problem was, in the evenings, we had a number of passengers that "played dumb" and boarded at the turnaround at Avondale and would ride to their non-expres stop street. Yes, they knew it was the express. They also knew it was a faster ride, and if we wouldn't let them off, they simply pulled the emergency on the back doors causing the bus to "stonewall", and they'd get out like nothing happened. ...
Yup. For BRT to work, you have to make it identifiable.
You also want "curb appeal".

Sorry, the 4000s have very little "curb appeal".


The problem in Chicago is that for $11 million you aren't getting much to begin with, and without some sort of increase in operating and capital funds, even if there were a spruce up, CTA doesn't have the bus or driver capacity to handle the increase in ridership that New York supposedly got with the Bx12.

Of course, someone like Mike Payne would bring up that this isn't being coordinated with whatever Southeast study is going on there and maybe the best use of 71st is a transfer station to the ME and not this, not that I necessarily subscribe to that viewpoint.

As far as passengers gaming the express buses, as I said, either they are gaming the 14 and avoiding the 15 now, or they aren't. This doesn't change that. You make one wonder whether someone who gets on downtown and "just has to get off at 82nd Place" does, instead of riding on to 83rd, since the downtown bus now only stops at odd numbered cross streets.



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