Despite Streetcar Skeleton, Chicago Leans Towards BRT

Transit officials in Chicago are calling on the city to rebuild its historic streetcar system. Rails still exist on many streets, but city officials are leaning away from streetcars and towards bus rapid transit.

"Under the asphalt, you can still see the steel rails of the once-great Chicago streetcar system."

"Rather than maintaining the streetcar track and figuring out how to integrate streetcars with auto traffic, it was easier for the CTA to replace all streetcars with buses, said Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. Now Chicago is behind European cities when it comes to having an energy-efficient street transit system, Harnish said."

"Harnish's group has been trying to talk the city into running a streetcar line from Navy Pier to railroad stations and the Shedd Aquarium, so far without success."

"Instead of new streetcars, the CTA is planning a pilot 'bus rapid transit' program, which would give buses their own designated lanes during rush hour on certain streets. The CTA is also trying to reduce the cost and pollution of buses through the use of more hybrids."

Full Story: Bring back the streetcars?

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Chicago Used to Have Electric Buses

Chicago used to have a system of electric "trolley buses" that were powered by overhead wires. The CTA, in their infinite wisdom, got rid of them at the start of one of our reoccurring petroleum crises.

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