August 29, 2003

Five New Express Bus Routes to Provide Faster Trips Downtown, Less Crowding and Fewer Transfers

Today Chicago Transit Authority officials reminded bus customers along both North and South Lake Shore Drive of service enhancements that will become effective on Sunday, August 31. Twenty-four routes in all will be affected, with the majority of customers experiencing the improved service when the workweek resumes on September 2. Enhancements include five new express routes to the Loop that will result in faster travel times, new and extended express service, less crowded buses, improved east-west service connections, expanded express service hours and fewer transfers.

Since the Chicago Transit Board approved the 180-day experiment at its June meeting, the CTA has disseminated information on the service enhancements to customers through seven open house meetings for customers, radio and print advertising, delivery of detailed brochures to 450,000 residences and businesses and the posting of detailed route information on buses, and at bus stops and rail stations along the affected routes. CTA Executive Vice President for Transit Operations, Richard Winston reiterated the service improvements at a press conference to remind customers that the changes begin on Sunday, August 31 with the first workday rush period under the new configuration to be after Labor Day on Tuesday, September 2.

?These service enhancements have been designed to improve local service, as well as move already full express buses to Lake Shore Drive earlier in the route," explained Winston. ?More express routes will help to reduce the need for transfers and provide a faster, more reliable trip for customers."

Service enhancements for South Lake Shore Drive affect 14 bus routes, adding two new express routes for a total of five, and one new local route. Most of CTA's existing South Shore express service currently is concentrated in the Jeffery corridor, resulting in frequent east-west transfers as part of many trips. By creating new express routes along Stony Island Avenue and South Shore Drive, the CTA is creating faster trips downtown and eliminating the need for many customers to transfer.

North Lake Shore Drive service enhancements affect 10 bus routes, adding three new express routes into the Loop, increasing the number from five to eight.

On the North Side, express buses had been traveling on local streets for a large portion of the trip before entering express service on Lake Shore Drive, resulting in overcrowding during rush periods. The new service enhancements move already full express buses to Lake Shore Drive earlier in the route. The new express routes and more Lake Shore Drive entry points mean faster trips and less crowded buses.

"Customers using these routes represent 15 percent of all CTA bus customers. This improved service will benefit our current customers along these routes as well as encourage those who do not use CTA regularly to try the service," said Winston. ?Reconfiguring service allows us to more efficiently allocate our resources resulting in better service for our customers."

The service enhancements were developed as a result of ridership growth on express routes, customer comments, community input and changing ridership patterns. Combined, the South and North Lake Shore Drive bus routes experienced a 17.6 percent increase in ridership over the last five years.

Customers can access individual route maps and additional information via the CTA web site at www.transitchicago.com or by calling 836-7000 (all local area codes).

After a 180-day experimental period, the CTA will evaluate the restructuring for its success in meeting customer demand.

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