The CTA Board Wednesday made permanent the operation of two express bus routes that were established on an experimental basis earlier this year and approved the extension of experimental service on two other express routes. Two local routes are being modified to comply with new street traffic patterns.
The routes being made permanent are the #X55 Garfield Express, which operates during weekday rush periods along 55th Street and Garfield Boulevard, and the #X98 Avon Express, which serves reverse commuters for shift changes Monday through Saturday at the Avon Products facility in north suburban Morton Grove. Both routes began service in late June to accommodate growth in the 55th Street corridor.
X98 Avon Express buses operate between the Irving Park Blue Line station and the Avon facility near Waukegan and Golf Roads in Morton Grove. Supported by Suburban Job Link, a non-profit agency that helps inner-city residents find employment opportunities in the suburbs, the X98 route has exceeded the targeted ridership of 400 passengers per day.
Routes where service is being extended experimentally for another 180 days are the #X80 Irving Park Express, which provides rush period service between Diversey/Sheridan and Irving Park/Cicero, and the #168 UIC-Pilsen Express, which serves daily shift changes at the United Parcel Service (UPS) facility in southwest suburban Hodgkins from just west and south of the Loop.
#X80 Irving Park Express buses averaged 1,380 customers a day in October, exceeding the ridership of 1,200 per day anticipated when experimental service was established in late June with CMAQ funding. Requests from customers and an analysis of ridership indicated a need for express service farther west on Irving Park. Starting tentatively in March, 2003, #X80 buses will operate on Irving Park between Lake Shore and Irving Park Plaza at Harlem. As before, #X80 buses will stop mainly at streets with crossing bus lines or at 'L' stations.
#168 UIC-Pilsen Express buses connect the University of Illinois Chicago campus and the Pilsen community with the UPS facility in Hodgkins. Federal Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) funds and UPS support the service, which provides affordable transportation to a major job location in a suburban area not regularly served by CTA. While ridership has grown since the #168 route was established late last year, another 180-day experimental period will be needed to determine if more customers can be attracted to the service.
Construction of a cul-de-sac on 92nd Street between Buffalo and Mackinaw is requiring the modification of two routes serving the South Chicago community.#30 South Chicago buses will operate in both directions via South Chicago, 92nd, Buffalo, 91st and Mackinaw to Ewing and continue over the regular route.#95E 93rd/95th buses will end their trips east via 92nd, Burley and 91st to Buffalo before starting new trips west on 92nd.
Since November 1998, CTA has made service improvements on 50% of its bus routes (72 out of 143 total routes) and on all of its rail routes. A total of 170 improvements have been implemented. This includes 13 new bus routes, expanded hours of service, added trips to reduce wait time, and route changes to improve access and connectivity. The greatest number of improvements has been to add trips to improve the frequency of CTA buses and trains.
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