Op-Ed: Invest More in Chicago's Buses

In addition to funding the city's roadways and trains, Chicago could use new federal infrastructure dollars to shore up its bus system and invest in bus rapid transit that would improve service for riders.

February 3, 2022, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Bus Priority Zones

ReanC / Shutterstock

In an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune, Amy Rynell, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, argues that Chicago's efforts to revitalize its public transit system should focus on buses, particularly bus rapid transit (BRT). As Rynell writes, investing in BRT would bring other positive improvements to the city. "Investments in BRT often come with major upgrades for people walking and biking with wider sidewalks, protected bike lanes and stations that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. They spur neighborhood economic development, leading to more affordable housing and small businesses with access to rapid transit."

Rynell calls on city leaders to allocate more resources to bus service, asking "Why aren’t our transportation and transit agencies working together to pursue innovative, equity-focused investments in bus service?" Rynell then describes the city's failed Ashland Avenue BRT project, which she suspects is influencing the city's reluctance to invest in more buses. But Rynell argues in favor of reviving that plan, which was stopped due to opposition from local businesses. According to the article, the Ashland Avenue BRT plan was the most cost-effective proposal evaluated by the regional planning agency, and federal dollars could pay for a substantial portion of the cost of new BRT lines. In the meantime, Rynell also recommends upgrading service with dedicated bus lanes on the city's most-used routes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 in Chicago Tribune

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