January 28, 2004

The Chicago Transit Authority is enhancing its bus service by adding a new rush hour peak direction express route along Lake Shore Drive; returning two routes, including one along Lake Shore Drive, back to their original routing; making permanent an experimental change on one route; and making modifications to another route that will provide more convenient overnight service. Some of the changes are related to the 180-day experimental restructuring of routes serving the Lake Shore Drive corridor, which began last August. The experiment addressed, for the first time in decades, the growing ridership and changing travel patterns of the area.

?The experimental route enhancements are allowing us to refine our bus service along the Lake Shore corridor by examining the impact of the changes. One of the adjustments we are making is to return the #145 Wilson/Michigan bus route back to its original routing. The original routing for the #145 now better meets the needs of our bus customers on that route as a result of the experimental changes in the corridor, so the experiment is doing what it was designed to do," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?I am pleased to say that the Lake Shore Drive corridor experiment is meeting our customers? needs."

Approved today by the Chicago Transit Board, the improvements will benefit customers by providing additional transit options and reduced travel times.

The adjustments are a result of customer feedback, as well as observation and analysis by CTA staff. CTA expects to implement the changes by the end of March. All changes comply with the Service Standards adopted by the Board in 2001. Bus ridership along the corridor has increased 1.1 percent from 185,137 customers to 187,156 on an average weekday since the experiment was launched in August.

?We continually strive to improve service for our customers," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole L. Brown. ?Today's Board action contributes to our efforts to retain our current customers and attract new customers by making our service more convenient."

The changes are:

#N4 Cottage Grove will be rerouted in order to add overnight owl service through the Illinois Center complex and a new southbound stop at Michigan/ Randolph, which also serves #151 Sheridan and #N66 Chicago buses.Adding #N4 stops to the location creates a convenient transfer point for customers on those routes looking to complete their trips to the South Side. Service will run from Illinois Center to 63rd/Cottage Grove via Michigan north to Randolph; Randolph east to Columbus; Columbus north to South Water; South Water west to Michigan; Michigan south to Randolph; Randolph west to State; State south to Washington and the existing #4 Cottage Grove route. The #N4 will continue to serve the downtown owl terminal at State/Washington.

#18 16th/18th buses were extended eastbound to connect with the Cermak-Chinatown station on the Red Line as part of a service experiment launched in December 2002. Citing increased ridership as a result of this experiment, the CTA is making this extension a permanent part of the route. Weekday ridership is up 5.7 percent, while Saturday ridership is up 11.7 percent and Sunday ridership is up 31.8 percent.

#X21 Cermak Express will return to its original hours and routing between North Riverside Park Mall and McCormick Place. As part of an experiment implemented on December 22, 2002, #X21 service was expanded to serve downtown and the Medical District. A second 180-day experiment was approved last June, routing the bus along Damen instead of Marshall Boulevard and Ogden. Low ridership to the Medical District and downtown is the key factor in returning the #X21 to its original route and schedule. Service hours will be Saturdays, Sundays and holidays between 7:40 a.m. and 7:40 p.m. Customers needing to travel to destinations formerly served by the #X21 can transfer to#9 Ashland or #60 Blue Island/26th buses.

#145 Wilson/Michigan will revert back to its original routing prior to the 180-day experiment to restructure bus service along the Lake Shore Drive corridor that took effect last August. Based on customer feedback and staff observation, this change will help alleviate crowding on the #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express route in the densely populated corridor between Belmont and Irving Park. #145 buses will enter and exit Lake Shore Drive at Belmont, operating south on Michigan Avenue and north on State Street in the Loop.

To serve customers who want to enter Lake Shore Drive at Irving Park (which the #145 did during the first part of the experiment), the #148 Clarendon/Michigan Express has been created to operate peak direction express service during morning and afternoon rush periods. Morning trips will operate between Wilson/Ravenswood and Michigan/Congress. Afternoon trips will operate between State/Congress and Wilson/Ravenswood. Trips will operate express on Lake Shore Drive between Irving Park and Delaware. This will provide faster service during peak times for customers living north of Irving Park to Michigan Avenue.

Information on all CTA service can be found by calling 836-7000 from any local area code or on the web site at www.transitchicago.com.

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