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Just saw on ABC7 News that the federal government is giving the City of Chicago $153 million to look into possible solutions into Chicago's worsening rush hour congestion woes. As part of this new program that UIC will be assisting in putting together, the CTA is to test out 4 new bus rapid transit routes as early as next year, where the the buses of these routes will operate on designated bus lanes as well as utilize equipment that will allow them to have traffic signal priority at intersections, similar or the same as that Pace and CTA was to be testing along the West Cermak Corridor through Berwyn leading to North Riverside. A press conference was given this morning with Mayor Daley, Ron Huberman and US Dept. of Transportation officials announcing this program. Of course one of the hybrids, this time 807 sporting 'My Kind of Town Chicago Is' in its destination sign, was on hand for Daley and Huberman to showcase when making this announcement. The reporter relaying the story inaccurately stated that buses such as this one wouldn't be on the street for another year, which of course we all know that the hybrids have been on the road for about a year and a half on Kedzie assigned routes. It was more accurate for him to say that they wouldn't be on the street on these routes for about another year, in lieu of approval of the proposal by the City Council and the CTA Board and of course working out where the new routes will operate. Daley says he hopes the City and CTA to have routes fully implemented by 2010. What are some of your thoughts on this announcement? Do you think it will work or be beneficial?

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Here is a link to the web version.

There were previous stories about X49 being given some BRT amenities, such as "specialized street furniture." That probably would be the logical route to start. That was also the place that was supposed to get the Compobuses, but that didn't happen.

Huberman's City Club presentation also mentioned BRT (starting on page 58).

The WGN report, while mentioning the same things as WLS, seemed to put more stress on the congestion timed parking meters. It isn't clear from the news reports how much of the money actually goes into BRT.

I was going to make the usual comment that Daley in front of a hybrid bus is the same old photo op we have seen many times before, but in this case Daley being there seems more appropriate, as it was a grant to the city.

Is the implication that the 150 leased hybrid articulateds are now for this, rather than just a 3 for 4 swap? Or, since the 2010 date was mentioned, more of these are now expected?

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Just saw on ABC7 News that the federal government is giving the City of Chicago $153 million to look into possible solutions into Chicago's worsening rush hour congestion woes. As part of this new program that UIC will be assisting in putting together, the CTA is to test out 4 new bus rapid transit routes as early as next year, where the the buses of these routes will operate on designated bus lanes as well as utilize equipment that will allow them to have traffic signal priority at intersections, similar or the same as that Pace and CTA was to be testing along the West Cermak Corridor through Berwyn leading to North Riverside. A press conference was given this morning with Mayor Daley, Ron Huberman and US Dept. of Transportation officials announcing this program. Of course one of the hybrids, this time 807 sporting 'My Kind of Town Chicago Is' in its destination sign, was on hand for Daley and Huberman to showcase when making this announcement. The reporter relaying the story inaccurately stated that buses such as this one wouldn't be on the street for another year, which of course we all know that the hybrids have been on the road for about a year and a half on Kedzie assigned routes. It was more accurate for him to say that they wouldn't be on the street on these routes for about another year, in lieu of approval of the proposal by the City Council and the CTA Board and of course working out where the new routes will operate. Daley says he hopes the City and CTA to have routes fully implemented by 2010. What are some of your thoughts on this announcement? Do you think it will work or be beneficial?

Ive been to Los Angeles many tmes and they have an extensive BRT system running in the middle of the freeway system. They also use the traffic control priority system. It seems to work well there although traffic jams are still a problem in that city. Last year on my trip to Europe, I visited Geneva, Switzerland and Paris, France and I had a great time experiencing their mass transit systems. In Paris their bus system have their dedicated right of ways while the cars are stuck in traffic, buses just move along as if it were sunday night. Geneva has a transit mall where only buses and light rail are allowed. The idea of buses operating in their own dedicated right of ways is a great idea thats been long, long overdue here in Chicago. I think it will be a great benefit for this city, hopefully BRT lines will open up on the Kennedy, Dan Ryan, and Stevenson expy. Im sure the express lanes on the Kennedy and Dan Ryan will also be used for this project. As far as city streets are concerned that will a challenge because of the fact that many of the city's streets are narrow and do not have enough room for CTA buses to have their own dedicated lanes.

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I think it will be a great benefit for this city, hopefully BRT lines will open up on the Kennedy, Dan Ryan, and Stevenson expy. Im sure the express lanes on the Kennedy and Dan Ryan will also be used for this project. As far as city streets are concerned that will a challenge because of the fact that many of the city's streets are narrow and do not have enough room for CTA buses to have their own dedicated lanes.
However, it wouldn't make sense to have BRT competing with existing L lines in those expressways (or in the Stevenson's case, the Orange Line in close proximity to it). That would not eliminate congestion.

While there are hurdles to doing it on city streets, the wider ones (again, Western, Ashland and Irving Park come to mind) are the only logical places to run it. A lot of work would have to be done to enforce "no parking" lanes, fare collection kiosks and the like, but the WGN report indicated that that was where the money was going. Statements about TSP are also inconsistent with putting it on the expressways.

As far as transit malls, we had the State Street one, which in about 1995 was decided to be a bad idea.

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However, it wouldn't make sense to have BRT competing with existing L lines in those expressways (or in the Stevenson's case, the Orange Line in close proximity to it). That would not eliminate congestion.

While there are hurdles to doing it on city streets, the wider ones (again, Western, Ashland and Irving Park come to mind) are the only logical places to run it. A lot of work would have to be done to enforce "no parking" lanes, fare collection kiosks and the like, but the WGN report indicated that that was where the money was going. Statements about TSP are also inconsistent with putting it on the expressways.

As far as transit malls, we had the State Street one, which in about 1995 was decided to be a bad idea.

I agree with the wider streets being logical places to test and operate a BRT system. As for the State Street Mall being considered a bad one, eliminating it did nothing to relieve car congestion on Michigan Avenue as that was one reason given for it being a bad idea. Rush hour congestion is about the same on Michigan Avenue if not worse 13 years later, and now State Street sometimes rivals Michigan in terms of rush hour car traffic volume because people are still too in love with their cars and look at using public transportation as being below their status due to their income. It's partly why gas prices are still so high. People still refuse to drive less and use public transit where it is possible for them to do so, keeping the demand for gasoline high. Also buses speeding through yellow lights has become an issue along State I would imagine as they try to stay on schedule, schedules which haven't really been adjusted all that much to take into account that the buses have had to compete with car traffic along State Street.

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I agree with the wider streets being logical places to test and operate a BRT system. As for the State Street Mall being considered a bad one, eliminating it did nothing to relieve car congestion on Michigan Avenue as that was one reason given for it being a bad idea. Rush hour congestion is about the same on Michigan Avenue is just about the same if not worse 13 years later, and now State Street sometimes rivals Michigan in terms of rush hour car traffic volume because people are still too in love with their cars and look at using public transportation as being below their status due to their income. It's partly why gas prices are still so high. People still refuse to drive less and use public transit where it is possible for them to do so, keeping the demand for gasoline high. Also buses speeding through yellow lights has become an issue along State I would imagine to try to stay on schedule which haven't really been adjustsed all that much to take into account that the buses have had to compete with car traffic along State Street.

Im a strong supporter of the ideas brought forward today. Not only because it would give us, the fans something more interesting to look at and the urge to ride but I think it is a type of fast transportation this city desperately needs and fast. One idea I wish was brought forward was the return of the now dead downtown light rail plan. This would certainly wouldve been an interesting idea to add to the mix. Hopefully the express rapid transit trains planned will operate. One thing I found out to be effective in Paris, France were the bus lanes on city streets. It seemed to work well from my observations and the buses werent stuck behind traffic, buses were moving along pretty good. The only hang up was if 3 or 4 buses bunch up there was no room for buses to maneuver around one another because of lane markers. But overall I think the idea is worth looking into. In Geneva, Switzerland the transit mall concept seems to work well there. Dedicated bus/light rail system consists of two and three section articulated trolleys, regular diesel and trolley coaches. Los Angeles Calif. and Houston, Texas are already operating BRT systems. Houston Metro utilizes OTR coaches and artics for its BRT service. L.A. have the Metro Rapid using artics and 40 footers. I think CTA and Pace have a tremendous opportunity available to them that is long, long overdue. It will be interesting to see what ideas and plans are brought forward to see whats going to hopefully finally put an end to this horrible gridlock in Chicago. Our freeways are congested at all hours of the day and night, 7 days a week, something needs to give here.

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Is the implication that the 150 leased hybrid articulateds are now for this, rather than just a 3 for 4 swap? Or, since the 2010 date was mentioned, more of these are now expected?

From what I understood of Mayor Daley's comments in the CTA press release, the hybrid artics will be dedicated to service on the BRT, but no further acquisitions of these are in the works.

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From what I understood of Mayor Daley's comments in the CTA press release, the hybrid artics will be dedicated to service on the BRT, but no further acquisitions of these are in the works.
That depends on the interpretation of "is buying." However, Hilkevitch (update: as of the date of this post, not now) seems to reinforce you by saying "on order"

Obviously, the 2010 date for starting the BRT is behind the August 2008 date for the DE60LF deliveries to begin.

On the WTTW front, Chicago Tonight was a little clearer on Huberman trying to distinguish the articulateds from 807 (i.e. bigger rear doors). Also, while other media outlets were saying that "Daley refused to say which 4 routes," here they said that the 4 routes would be selected after a study. For that matter, they need a study of how much to increase rush hour parking meter rates.

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here they said that the 4 routes would be selected after a study. For that matter, they need a study of how much to increase rush hour parking meter rates.

Of course....someone's brother needs some cash !!!!! Heck, why do something obvious when there is someone there with their hands out. Jeez...I just wish they could run a basic bus route without making things so complicated (errrrrrrrr)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Of course....someone's brother needs some cash !!!!! Heck, why do something obvious when there is someone there with their hands out. Jeez...I just wish they could run a basic bus route without making things so complicated (errrrrrrrr)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well since in this case there is a stipulation for there to be designated bus lanes to be used to make the 4 pilot routes the start of a Bus Rapid Transit network, it isn't really all that simple. With so many of Chicago's streets being narrow with one lane per direction, there's already a complication of where to locate these routes. I will agree with you though that the process doesn't have to be made more complicated than it already is.

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I just got back from Mexico City, and it made me really enthusiastic about BRT. The line down Insurgentes actually carries twice the number of riders the Red Line carries!

They call it Metrobus. They expanded it by about 5 miles further south on Insurgentes, just opening the new section in March, and they expect an East West BRT route to come on-line sometime this year. I saw the waiting platforms being built while I was there.

I was so enthusiastic, I came back and read an entire 18-page thread on skyscrapercity about it -- in Spanish. And let me tell you, I don't read that fast in Spanish.

I guess Huberman and Daley saw my post about it at the yahoo group on Sunday night, and decided if nextstopchicago is that excited, we should probably do something like that.

Yeah, right. Anyway, the Mexico City system is really cool. I haven't seen the Paris or Los Angeles versions, of course.

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One other thing about the Metrobus -- they use artics with 160 capacity, but it isn't enough, and they're ordering new double-artics with a capacity of 240! They have a higher tolerance for cram-packed standing than we seem to though.

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I just got back from Mexico City, and it made me really enthusiastic about BRT. The line down Insurgentes actually carries twice the number of riders the Red Line carries!

They call it Metrobus. They expanded it by about 5 miles further south on Insurgentes, just opening the new section in March, and they expect an East West BRT route to come on-line sometime this year. I saw the waiting platforms being built while I was there.

I was so enthusiastic, I came back and read an entire 18-page thread on skyscrapercity about it -- in Spanish. And let me tell you, I don't read that fast in Spanish.

I guess Huberman and Daley saw my post about it at the yahoo group on Sunday night, and decided if nextstopchicago is that excited, we should probably do something like that.

Yeah, right. Anyway, the Mexico City system is really cool. I haven't seen the Paris or Los Angeles versions, of course.

I really like the Los Angeles BRT system. They call them busways! It is literally rapid transit, but with buses.

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They have Busway systems in Pittsburgh and Ottawa. Along with L.A. those are the only "real" BRT systems in North America. In NYC a BRT line is supposed to open June 29th (?) this year. It is the SBS (Select Bus Service) Bx12, and I beilive it runs on Fordham Road.

I really don't know Chicago well, but what about a BRT line on Western from Blue Island to Howard 'L'?

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I guess Huberman and Daley saw my post about it at the yahoo group on Sunday night, and decided if nextstopchicago is that excited, we should probably do something like that.

Yeah, right.

Of course. ;)

However, it is clear that something was going on behind the scenes, because of the stories about Chicago getting a portion of New York's grant because NYC forfeited it because the state wouldn't enact congestion pricing. See, for instance the New York Times article. People like the late Sick Transit Chicago blog were lamenting that Chicago was out of the running for the Urban Partnership money, because it couldn't come up with a congestion pricing plan. If he or she didn't know how that would come out (i.e Chicago would get the money), and the tea leaves (the City Club slideshow and the bases for some of jajuan's inferences) indicate that CTA insiders knew about this project for some time and were intending to assign the DE60LFs to it, I still wonder if those who said with certitude where the buses were going (you know who you are) are going to say that you knew about the BRT and parking meter project, which must have been in the works for more than the weekend, all along.

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I really don't know Chicago well, but what about a BRT line on Western from Blue Island to Howard 'L'?

As I and someone on WTTW indicated, Western is a good candidate. However the question you raise is whether it would be longer than the existing X49 (Evergreen Plaza to Berwyn Ave.).

I could see adding the north end, but not the south, given that 49A is a very light route, basically just a rush hour supplement to Pace, now, and in light of the whole question of trying to cut back overlapping service on the far south side, especially as reflected in the proposals for the Pace restructuring.

I wonder about the economics of running an articulated bus into a light ridership area. Also, unless Blue Island were on board, you would have the screaming about Chicago affecting street and land use and maybe even trying to condemn land for the paid areas outside of its jurisdiction.

But maybe you suggest a reason why a study is actually needed.

BTW, I see that Hilkevitch keeps rewriting his story and now has speculation about the routes. But I am fairly confident that he doesn't know.

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As I and someone on WTTW indicated, Western is a good candidate.

...

BTW, I see that Hilkevitch keeps rewriting his story and now has speculation about the routes. But I am fairly confident that he doesn't know.

Hilkevitch mentions Ogden, LSD and Ashland.

Ashland is one of the busiest routes, and it's express bus took off in terms of ridership much faster than the others, and is at 45/hour, below the regular 9 at 54/hour. (By the way, why did CTA stop breaking out productivity numbers by express versus regular. It's tough to assess a given route's effectiveness if you've lumped it in with a different service. Maybe they should consider giving an overall Ashland figure, and then a breakout, sort of like they do for el stations with multiple entrances.)

On the other hand, Western has a little more space for this sort of thing, and it's got a well-established express run which is actually stronger than the local in productivity.

It's tough to see how LSD fits with what they're talking about. You could certainly establish a bus only lane on LSD, and that's been among CTA's goals since they restructured north and south lakefront service. But special boarding zones don't seem to fit with LSD expresses, which have local feeder runs before they enter the drive. Are you going to put a special boarding platform at every street corner?

In Mexico, the establishment of Metrobus meant the exclusion of the local runs, but Metrobus stops at something like the equivalent of every two blocks here. One of the things about integrating BRT expresses with local service, if that's what they intend to do, is that you're presumably setting up pre-paid, fast-loading platforms, but the locals can't pull up to those, because they're high-platform stops. (so people aren't taking extra time getting on by walking up stairs.) Metrobus really does load FAST! 30 people on and off in a few seconds, just like an el, where that can take a minute or more on a normal CTA bus. But it may be incompatible with local service, depending on how it's done.

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Hilkevitch mentions Ogden, LSD and Ashland.

It's tough to see how LSD fits with what they're talking about. You could certainly establish a bus only lane on LSD, and that's been among CTA's goals since they restructured north and south lakefront service. But special boarding zones don't seem to fit with LSD expresses, which have local feeder runs before they enter the drive. Are you going to put a special boarding platform at every street corner?

Your logic is entirely appropriate here.

The Sun-Times says:

Sources said Lake Shore Drive would not be among the four test corridors. ...

Peter Skosey, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Planning Council, suggested that bus rapid transit corridors be implemented on "major arterials" that intersect with L lines, such as Ashland, Western, Irving Park and Addison.

Skosey seems to make more sense, except for Addison that is narrow and close to being a residential street.

Ogden just seems to be an attempt to kiss up to Lipinski the elder. It is supposed to be a New Start, but if the 38 bus can't support service on Ogden except for Mt. Sinai hospital, I don't see how putting BRT there solves congestion.

Again, if I were putting bets (and Daley hasn't told me either), I would say X4, especially since some news reports refer to getting Downtown quicker.

I don't understand your "high platform" comment, since reports are that low floor buses will be used. However, I tend to concur that this could result in a cutback of the locals.

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Of course. ;)

However, it is clear that something was going on behind the scenes, because of the stories about Chicago getting a portion of New York's grant because NYC forfeited it because the state wouldn't enact congestion pricing. See, for instance the New York Times article. People like the late Sick Transit Chicago blog were lamenting that Chicago was out of the running for the Urban Partnership money, because it couldn't come up with a congestion pricing plan. If he or she didn't know how that would come out (i.e Chicago would get the money), and the tea leaves (the City Club slideshow and the bases for some of jajuan's inferences) indicate that CTA insiders knew about this project for some time and were intending to assign the DE60LFs to it, I still wonder if those who said with certitude where the buses were going (you know who you are) are going to say that you knew about the BRT and parking meter project, which must have been in the works for more than the weekend, all along.

No I didn't know about it. But I will go on the record and say this since some people on here think that we are under oath in court. (you know who you are) Ask yourself how will this work? We already have X routes that do this. How will we have a dedicated lane for transit? Where would you put it. If you make main streets no parking what about the residential streets. There is no room for this. If you change traffic lights you will just screw up traffic more than it already is. (you can thank the left turn lights for this) Making parking meters more money will drive people to rapid transit trains not buses. There is no such thing as a rapid bus transit that can beat the "L" through the loop. Also if you make these Hybrids do this service, well you can order some more buses because the fleet will need to expand. Plus who is going to pay in advance to ride this no doubt excessive fare service. Also is 153 million enough to do this. This requires total street reconstruction to do it correctly. I don't know about this. To me the X routes are fine. Expand them that's what needs to happen. I think this is all about the olympics in 2016. Daley has put pressure on Huberman to do this, because Daley's biggest concern is the movement of people throughout the games. ( if they happen) I hope they have seriously thought this through or they might end up in a compromising position.

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Another thing to consider from the Press Release: There are numerous references to the first 10.2 miles (of a hoped for 100 mile system) in 4 corridors to be selected. Since Western Ave. from Berwyn to 95th is itself about 17.5 miles, they don't appear to be talking about the conversion of an entire route, but probably about 4 demonstrations on portions of existing X routes. Certainly not extending them.

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Another thing to consider from the Press Release: There are numerous references to the first 10.2 miles (of a hoped for 100 mile system) in 4 corridors to be selected. Since Western Ave. from Berwyn to 95th is itself about 17.5 miles, they don't appear to be talking about the conversion of an entire route, but probably about 4 demonstrations on portions of existing X routes. Certainly not extending them.

Interesting point, as is the comment from BusHunter before. Thanks for pointing out that they're talking about low-floor buses. The Mexico City operation uses high platforms in the center of the road, with special buses that have big doors on the left and high floors. But maybe Chicago will do it differently. The bottom line is you do need special buses and dedicated boarding areas to allow prepayment of fares and then rapid boarding. The article mentions boarding in front and back. That means the pre-pay area has to be fenced off somehow, so that you know people have actually paid. That's going to require some space.

BusHunter is right that we're unlikely to see a hundred miles of dedicates lanes, because too much would have to be given up. Maybe the 2.5 miles/ per route that we're talking about in this initial test will be at specific areas where there is more room, less need of parking, etc.

My guess is that Signal Priority is going to be the biggest aspect of this. Sig Priority does not screw up traffic. That's been proven in case after case. You do it in an intelligent way -- if you take 8 seconds out of a light going E/W, you add it back into the next cycle. It's not a big deal.

Anyway, I'm interested to see the plan.

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Actually, the thing that is interesting to me that is unexplored is that Daley is saying that the parking pricing and the BRT go hand in hand ... but they're talking about arterial streets for BRT.

Are they expecting to serve customers rapidly to the El? Then they better figure out a way to expand El capacity. But otherwise, its hard to see how the streets that get BRT are going to have any effect on downtown, which is where they're talking about the new parking rules.

I think these are two entirely separate proposals that have just been tied together with a pretty ribbon. Again, I'm interested to see a little more meat on the bones of this plan.

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Actually, the thing that is interesting to me that is unexplored is that Daley is saying that the parking pricing and the BRT go hand in hand ... but they're talking about arterial streets for BRT.

Are they expecting to serve customers rapidly to the El? Then they better figure out a way to expand El capacity. But otherwise, its hard to see how the streets that get BRT are going to have any effect on downtown, which is where they're talking about the new parking rules.

I think these are two entirely separate proposals that have just been tied together with a pretty ribbon. Again, I'm interested to see a little more meat on the bones of this plan.

Hmm, the only thing I can think of when expanding El capacity is the long proposed, yet probably dead Circle Line project, but then again, there are also others (which are probably dead): The Orange Line extension to Ford City, Red Line to 130th, a new Yellow Line station to Old Orchard (?? not sure ??), and the recent proposal of the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line to the suburbs.

As for me, I like the new BRT idea, since, like all your comments and the media said, it will allow for faster service on certain routes, create new lanes on certain streets, and 2 way boarding on the buses. But like 'nextstopchicago' said, the details given so far are really grim, need more to fully win our decision!

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Hmm, the only thing I can think of when expanding El capacity is the long proposed, yet probably dead Circle Line project, but then again, there are also others (which are probably dead): The Orange Line extension to Ford City, Red Line to 130th, a new Yellow Line station to Old Orchard (?? not sure ??), and the recent proposal of the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line to the suburbs.

Those are all interesting proposals. What I was thinking of is the fact that, to the degree the BRT is serving as feeders to the el, the els are already crammed at rush, so they need to figure out how to expand capacity to downtown.

Of the arterial express routes, only Madison reaches downtown, and that wasn't on anyone's list for BRT. You could potentially run a North Ave express that then turned southward when it got close.

Still, I'm all for BRT on arterials, and many of these arterials suffer from severe congestion. And buses on these streets already serve a substantial portion of the people on the street (15-30%, I believe, based on traffic counts I remember, though perhaps you shouldn't quote me on it.) So it's reasonable to think that high profile fast service could draw in another 10%, and have a significant congestion-reduction impact.

But bottom line is it's hard to see how BRT has any impact at all on getting downtown if it's planned for the arterials that have been suggested -- essentially those which already have X routes.

Another thing, though, is that buses serving State and Michigan must have the highest single-stop loading of almost anywhere in the system. And also the greatest amount of potential streetscape usable for prepaid, restricted-access boarding areas. If we're talking about using buses that could be boarded anywhere, but will have special boarding capacities allowing for fast entrance and exit at stations purpose-built for prepayment, then maybe we should just build a bunch of such stations downtown, allowing for rapid boarding of large numbers of people there.

Would these buses have two different types of doors? Otherwise, I'm not sure how Huberman/Daley's "boarding quickly in front and back" at prepaid stops squares with 15-mile routes where 13 miles have no special boarding areas. Can the driver open a very wide door in back at some stops, while leaving it closed at others, allowing exit, but forcing those entering to use the front door so he can be sure they're paying?

Just thinking out loud. I hope (but don't necessarily trust) that they already have answers to these questions. We'll see.

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Hmm, the only thing I can think of when expanding El capacity is the long proposed, yet probably dead Circle Line project, but then again, there are also others (which are probably dead): The Orange Line extension to Ford City, Red Line to 130th, a new Yellow Line station to Old Orchard...
I think the reference was more to expanding service on the current L to get people downtown where they would otherwise have to pay more for parking, but that would take getting more cars, and it is unclear how many of the 5000s, when delivered, are actually for fleet increase. Also, one would have to fix the Blue Line so as not to deter people with the threat of another subway evacuation.

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