The CTA wouldn’t waste $32 million just to speed up Loop bus service from 3 mph to 3.75 mph, would they?
Yes, they would! And they’re proud to say so.
As Blair Kamin reports: According to CTA spokesman Brian Steele, the agency seeks to increase peak-hour bus speeds to 3.75 mph from the snail-like 3 mph that was the average before the system made its debut. In off-peak hours, the goal is to get speeds up to as high as 6 mph.
Next, the CTA plans to bulldoze 16-20 buildings in the heart of Central Lakeview and waste $570+ million to shave 20-30 seconds off 40% of Red Line trips downtown.
Are Riders Being Thrown for a Loop?
by Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune, 1/9/2016
The driving idea behind Loop Link, the Emanuel administration’s attempt to speed CTA buses through traffic-clogged downtown streets, is to make bus service more like rail service — in a word, faster. In this optimistic spirit, the city refers to Loop Link bus stops as BRT stations, short for Bus Rapid Transit. But three weeks after Loop Link’s late December debut, the “R” in BRT seems more aspiration than fact.
Let me illustrate with a “bus versus man” experiment I conducted during the Friday morning rush.
First, I rode the CTA’s No. 20 bus down Washington Street, a key corridor in the Loop Link network. The trip from Canal Street to Michigan Avenue took 13 minutes and 22 seconds, a rate of 3.6 mph. Then, I walked the same route, moving, I hesitate to add, at an ambling pace rather than top speed. That took 14 minutes and 49 seconds, which works out to 3.25 mph.
So bus beat man, but not by much. Which may lead you to ask: Is Loop Link a $32 million boondoggle?
To be fair, the so-called express bus system is going through a breaking-in phase and remains very much a work in progress. To Chicago’s credit, Loop Link is an ambitious work of civic infrastructure, one that for the most part balances competing agendas and transcends the purely utilitarian approach that many cities take to such projects.
Still, the jury remains out and expectations aren’t high. Even if Loop Link achieves its modest goals, the time savings for riders won’t be huge. According to CTA spokesman Brian Steele, the agency seeks to increase peak-hour bus speeds to 3.75 mph from the snail-like 3 mph that was the average before the system made its debut. In off-peak hours, the goal is to get speeds up to as high as 6 mph.
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