Oh the irony of the term Bus Rapid Transit, given how long it might take to move this concept from idea to reality in Chicago. But BRT just gained some much needed traction with an endorsement from the Metropolitan Planning Council, which included BRT among the organization’s policy initiatives for 2012.
MPC, an independent non-profit that develops and promotes solutions for regional growth, has pledged to work with the city, CTA and other stakeholders to advance potential routes. Following an exhaustive study, MPC identified 10 priority routes, including a more than 20-mile stretch of Western Avenue, running from Howard Street to West 95th Street.
With benefits such as expanded transportation choice and improved transit times for commuters, BRT has proven a popular choice among urban planners in Las Vegas, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, where BRT systems boast features like dedicated lanes, signal prioritization, and pay-before-you-board stations. Whereas the cost to build new heavy rail transit systems can run upwards of $100 million per mile, Vegas built its BRT for a mere $2.7 mllion per mile.
Since introducing its line in 2008, Cleveland has seen travel times improve 25 percent and ridership increase 47 percent. MPC’s models suggest that BRT corridors could encourage as many as 7,000 drivers to ditch their cars and jump on board the bus bandwagon.