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Pace Buses ride shoulder on I-55


teck22
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lets see how well this runs....

February 18, 2011 (WLS) -- Don't be surprised if you see Pace buses riding on the shoulder of a busy Chicago expressway later this year.

Pace buses are going to drive the shoulders of the Stevenson in a two-year test that begins sometime this fall.

When traffic is flowing, the buses will use the regular lanes. But when there is congestion, the buses will be allowed to use the shoulder and bypass stalled traffic.

If the demonstration project is successful, it may pave the way for expansion to other Chicago-area expressways.

(Copyright ©2011 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=7966431

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Two problems I see with this,1,will the shoulders be kept free of garbage(tire treads,vehicle pieces and scrap lumber etc.)and 2,what happens if the bus is moving along

at highway speeds and encounters a stall on the shoulder or the State Police on a traffic stop,will traffic let them back in?

The original story back in 2009 and information previously posted on the RTA website indicated they seemed to be following the "Minneapolis" operations of using the shoulder when speeds are Over 35 mph and no more than 15 mph over the general lanes. When traffic is at a stand still, buses would be operating only at 15 mph.

So the worrying over buses 'crusing' down the shoulders at full speed is of no concern.

Shoulder riding is Not new to this country only to this region. Minneapolis has safely operated for over 15 years and now has over 300 miles of operations.

Congratulations to Pace and IDOT for being innovative and making real progress in this region to advance public transit.

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The original story back in 2009 and information previously posted on the RTA website indicated they seemed to be following the "Minneapolis" operations of using the shoulder when speeds are Over 35 mph and no more than 15 mph over the general lanes. When traffic is at a stand still, buses would be operating only at 15 mph.

So the worrying over buses 'crusing' down the shoulders at full speed is of no concern.

Shoulder riding is Not new to this country only to this region. Minneapolis has safely operated for over 15 years and now has over 300 miles of operations.

Congratulations to Pace and IDOT for being innovative and making real progress in this region to advance public transit.

This areas mass transit systems and politicians really need to get off its "A" and get the ball rolling on its many projects. Im really getting tired of listening to the news the last few years about new projects that would make mass transit better for riders and motorists. The same old songs for many years. And the future dosent look very bright especially after the tuesday elections. Mass transit in Chicago will continue to lag behind other cities with their projects such as BRT, bus only lanes, new rapid transit/commuter start ups. All were used to hearing is service cuts and layoffs, politicians dont play a more active role, nothing new gets done! I blame the politicians for not putting more focus on mass transit projects. I feel Chicago will always be behind in mass transit unless these lazy politicians begin to put more emphasis on improving it!

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This areas mass transit systems and politicians really need to get off its "A" and get the ball rolling on its many projects. Im really getting tired of listening to the news the last few years about new projects that would make mass transit better for riders and motorists. The same old songs for many years. And the future dosent look very bright especially after the tuesday elections. Mass transit in Chicago will continue to lag behind other cities with their projects such as BRT, bus only lanes, new rapid transit/commuter start ups. All were used to hearing is service cuts and layoffs, politicians dont play a more active role, nothing new gets done! I blame the politicians for not putting more focus on mass transit projects. I feel Chicago will always be behind in mass transit unless these lazy politicians begin to put more emphasis on improving it!

I must agree. For years I'd travel to other cities or read about systems in other countries which always made me ask "why can't we do that?" It's really a shame.

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I must agree. For years I'd travel to other cities or read about systems in other countries which always made me ask "why can't we do that?" It's really a shame.

Im with you! I too have traveled to many other cities and countries and I pay special attention to how transit is operated and the equipment they use. I also ask myself "Why cant we do this?" I feel like Chicago is lagging behind in all areas of mass transit while the rest of the worlds transit systems are moving forward. I like to think Chicago has a world class transit system, one we can all be proud of! But I am losing confidence, particularly with the last service cuts and now the layoffs!

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Im with you! I too have traveled to many other cities and countries and I pay special attention to how transit is operated and the equipment they use. I also ask myself "Why cant we do this?" I feel like Chicago is lagging behind in all areas of mass transit while the rest of the worlds transit systems are moving forward. ...

I agree with that much.

I am also not on the bandwagon on "congratulations for being innovative" when, in addition to what 5750 says, this has been mandated by state law for 3 years, and there have been discussions off and on whether they mean the right or left shoulder. At least, according to the WLS post, they are getting off the schneid later this year.

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I agree with that much.

I am also not on the bandwagon on "congratulations for being innovative" when, in addition to what 5750 says, this has been mandated by state law for 3 years, and there have been discussions off and on whether they mean the right or left shoulder. At least, according to the WLS post, they are getting off the schneid later this year.

A quick question. Don't all the shoulders have a groove paved into them as a last minute deterrent to people who are falling asleep at the wheel. (I know the NW tollway is like this) The bus rides really rough over these grooves. Wouldn't that have to be removed. Also there are not many shoulders available around the toll booths on the tollways. This is where the big delays are. I know around the 5PM timeframe waits can be 10-15 minutes on the NW tollway at the EB toll booth at River Rd. Traffic can be so bad at that time, it makes you wonder if avoiding the whole tollway (travel locally) would be faster.

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Don't know about the rumble strips, but supposedly I-55 was rebuilt to accommodate the bus shoulder.

As far as the Tollway, the only relevant place would be River Road. I am surprised that given the bus turnoff immediately past the toll plaza into the Rosemont station, nobody thought about providing bus exit access somewhere short of that point.

Other toll booths were rendered moot by the termination of routes 655 and 889.

The "other Chicago-area expressways" reference in the WLS story could (at this time) be only to 626 on the Edens.

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I agree with that much.

I am also not on the bandwagon on "congratulations for being innovative" when, in addition to what 5750 says, this has been mandated by state law for 3 years, and there have been discussions off and on whether they mean the right or left shoulder. At least, according to the WLS post, they are getting off the schneid later this year.

Welcome to intergovernmental relations amongst bureaucracies. For them to take 3 years (as opposed to 10) to get moving should be a positive.

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Another problem with all this is what about accidents? With that wide of a shoulder on the left hand side of I-55, troopers usually end up using that side to pull all affected cars out of traffic and clean up. I guess that'll be the same problem as mentioned before.

And 5750, I can't agree with you more on the topic of Chicagoland lagging behind on innovations for public transit. I've talked about this before. Although my stories will involved my trips to Seattle and L.A., I mean seriously Chicago? Yes every transit agency is under a budget crunch and with gas prices going up again, people are gonna start riding the bus/trains again. Need better ideas and buses than what's being put on the table.

Hopefully this will work out for the good because Plainfield residents are in dire need of transit.

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  • 2 months later...

Don't know if anybody has traveled I-55 lately, but they have started overnight construction of the shoulder lanes along that expressway from Kedzie to I-355, taking out the left lane. So it looks like they are serious of making this happen. Hopefully this will result in many people riding this bus.

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Don't know if anybody has traveled I-55 lately, but they have started overnight construction of the shoulder lanes along that expressway from Kedzie to I-355, taking out the left lane. So it looks like they are serious of making this happen. Hopefully this will result in many people riding this bus.

I hope so, though that didn't seem to be the biggest hit in the Twin Cities. My experience on I-35W sitting in bad traffic was watching the expresses go by on the right shoulder (those ugly Gillig Phantoms)and the buses weren't full. The buses rode the right shoulder with the hazards on, and they had to watch for traffic merging on the expressways. Amazingly, MNDOT did a great job keeping the roadway and shoulders plowed considering the significant amount of snowfall the Twin Cities get. There was also a bus stop on the expressway at Lake St. (there's a place on the expressway for the buses to pull over on both sides inbound and outbound). West of MN 62 on I-35W there are HOV lanes for the buses to use (which was the far left lane).

It will be interesting to see how the left shoulder will be used here. Since Pace really only has two routes that would use the shoulder, will IDOT continuously keep the shoulder clear? Where would they plow a large amount of snow? Since these routes are also operated by a private operator (at least the Twin Cities buses are Metro Transit, SW Transit, or MVTA) would other charter companies be able to use these lanes as well? Remember Pace was supposed to buy the buses for Keeshin to operate, but that doesn't seem likely to happen.

I don't know what effect that will have on increasing ridership. One would think it would help coupled with the ever increasing price of gasoline, but people love their cars and the convenience of going places on their own schedule as opposed to public transportation. To really promote this, Pace needs to have their own coach buses out there when this does come to fruition.

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  • 5 months later...

I went to the Pace Board meeting today (more on that in another thread).

Anyway, the details on this:

  • Starts Nov. 14.
  • They showed the YouTube.
  • Runs on the left shoulder, but only if traffic is going less than 35 mph and can't go more than 35 mph nor 15 mph more than other traffic.
  • There will be overhead signs on the expressway shoulder indicating when it is for or not for bus use.
  • Buses will have wraps, but unlike what is shown in the YouTube, Pace Express will slant up, and there will be a white bar slanting forward form the rear wheel well stating something like "Shoulder Riding Allowed." Also, similar across the rear. They said that the design had to be and was approved by the State Police.
  • Advertising campaign described, including ads over gas pumps at stations near the park and rides.

Now for the stuff possibly of interest here:

  • Melinda Metzger said that "we are training our employees about the shoulder operation now."
  • There was on the agenda an emergency motion to lease 6 over the road coaches, which Metzger said "we need to start service on time."

They didn't allow any questions from the audience, but it seems a fair inference from the two points above that whatever art was saying about the situation with Keeshin/Coach USA and Aries, that seems over on Nov. 14. One could pretty well assume that Pace is not going to trust operating buses properly on the shoulder nor rented buses to contractors. But, she did not come out and say that.

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I went to the Pace Board meeting today (more on that in another thread).

Anyway, the details on this:

  • Starts Nov. 14.
  • They showed the YouTube.
  • Runs on the left shoulder, but only if traffic is going less than 35 mph and can't go more than 35 mph nor 15 mph more than other traffic.
  • There will be overhead signs on the expressway shoulder indicating when it is for or not for bus use.
  • Buses will have wraps, but unlike what is shown in the YouTube, Pace Express will slant up, and there will be a white bar slanting forward form the rear wheel well stating something like "Shoulder Riding Allowed." Also, similar across the rear. They said that the design had to be and was approved by the State Police.
  • Advertising campaign described, including ads over gas pumps at stations near the park and rides.

Now for the stuff possibly of interest here:

  • Melinda Metzger said that "we are training our employees about the shoulder operation now."
  • There was on the agenda an emergency motion to lease 6 over the road coaches, which Metzger said "we need to start service on time."

They didn't allow any questions from the audience, but it seems a fair inference from the two points above that whatever art was saying about the situation with Keeshin/Coach USA and Aries, that seems over on Nov. 14. One could pretty well assume that Pace is not going to trust operating buses properly on the shoulder nor rented buses to contractors. But, she did not come out and say that.

Assuming Pace gets these OTR coaches, I wonder which garage will operate the 755 and 855 effective Nov.14. On the one hand, Heritage would seem a logical choice, but the deadhead to/from downtown would be a long haul. Perhaps Pace could "park" a car downtown overnight, and park the buses midday around 14th and Canal and use the car to deadhead drivers between downtown and the garage. South and/or West would seem to be a stretch, but at least South already has drivers familiar with OTR coaches, seeing that they have 6 coaches over there. Now that I think about it, maybe SW would be a viable alternative with its proximity to I-55 and I-294.

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Rts 755 & 855 will be covered by Heritage Div w/8 PACE MCI coaches and 2 leased coaches.

Rts 877 & 888 will still be covered by South Div w/6 leased coaches w/1 spare.

Thanks, and so much for the ambiguity in the budget. Also, the agenda item that "Ordinance authorizing an emergency procurement for lease of six over the road coaches" is off by three by your count.

Did you hear any reason for moving the owned coaches from S to Heritage, such as that they need time to put the wraps on them?

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I turned on Channel 7 just about at :33 of the story on this.

Probably interesting is that the YouTube showed up shortly after that, but prior to that they show Coach USA buses on the route. It doesn't look like file footage, and I suppose that art should find out what's the deal, except it will be meaningless in about 3 weeks.

At the end, there is some discussion about cars pulling into the shoulder following the bus, something about which Director Montana was pretty concerned.

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Thanks, and so much for the ambiguity in the budget. Also, the agenda item that "Ordinance authorizing an emergency procurement for lease of six over the road coaches" is off by three by your count.

Did you hear any reason for moving the owned coaches from S to Heritage, such as that they need time to put the wraps on them?

I hadn't heard a reason, but if the new coaches are being leased, it could be to save wear and tear on those leased coaches (mileage wise) by putting them on the south routes as opposed to the much longer 755 and 855.

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I hadn't heard a reason, but if the new coaches are being leased, it could be to save wear and tear on those leased coaches (mileage wise) by putting them on the south routes as opposed to the much longer 755 and 855.

That basically doesn't work out. Although routes on Google vary slightly from the bus routes, it is about 40 miles from Plainfield to Michigan Ave. and also about 37-40 miles from Homewood to Lisle via 294. There might be an issue how many trips one bus makes on one run.

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I think its great that Pace is beginning this program but I wonder if it will operate at the level of speed and reliability. Also, why did it wait this long to finally implement something when many other cities such as Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Miami have had this program for years and Chicago is just now taking its "baby steps" to BRT and CTA has yet to begin its service. Once again Chicago seems to be the lacking behind many other cities when it comes to mass transit. IMO, with the traffic problems in this city and throughout the suburbs, this concept should have been in place here in Chicago a long, long time ago!

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Also, why did it wait this long to finally implement something when many other cities...

Aside from the legal issues (apparently they needed to amend the Vehicle Code to allow buses to be treated the same as emergency vehicles with regard to riding on the shoulder), everything indicates that there had to be cooperation with IDOT and the State Police to get the signage, repairs to the shoulder, etc. to get it going Nov. 14.

There might be a question why all that was pushed through this year than some time before, but at least it was pushed through now.

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