Rockefeller Foundation Provides Additional Support for Chicago's Bus Rapid Transit Development Efforts

January 31, 2013
The Rockefeller Foundation has renewed its support for Chicago’s efforts to develop a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system through $1 million in additional financial support for research, technical support, project management and community engagement, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced today.
To date, The Rockefeller Foundation has provided nearly $1.8 million towards the Chicago BRT program for various activities, including:
  • technical assistance of a System Network Plan and overall coordination;
  • branding and communications;
  • outreach and education to city and community leaders, chambers of commerce, neighborhood groups and the general public;
  • and land-use planning around the Western/Ashland corridors.
This support from The Rockefeller Foundation has been able to leverage approximately $80,000 in matching support from the Chicago Community Trust (CCT), direct technical assistance from Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP), and additional support from the Boeing Foundation.
“We are thankful for the continued support of The Rockefeller Foundation for this important transportation and economic development project, which provides for additional resources for our planning and community engagement processes,” said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein.   
BRT improvements designed to make bus travel more reliable and appealing to customers include:  colored pavement markings and enhanced signage clearly delineating the bus lanes; level-boarding and off-board fare collection; signal priority for buses at key intersections; distinct bus shelters at locations served by designated routes; “Next Bus” arrival signs at bus stops and nearby locations; sidewalk improvements; and the installation of protected bicycle lanes. 
“Bus Rapid Transit is aimed at improving commutes along some of the most traveled corridors of Chicago,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “In addition to the immediate benefits to CTA customers and all who share the roadway, there is potential for secondary benefits such as spurring economic growth both downtown and in our neighborhoods.”
The work supported by these grants is jointly managed by the CCT, CDOT and CTA for planning, branding and community outreach projects. Other partners in the work include the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Active Transportation Alliance, the Metropolitan Planning Council, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Metropolis Strategies and the Civic Consulting Alliance.
“The Rockefeller Foundation strongly supports Chicago’s ambitious efforts to develop the highest quality bus rapid transit systems for the city,” said Benjamin de la Pena, Associate Director at The Rockefeller Foundation. “BRT can help cities roll out efficient transportation quickly and affordably, providing city residents with access to jobs and opportunities.”
BRT plans for the Central Loop East-West Transit Corridor includes designated bus-priority lanes on two miles of streets:  Madison, Washington, Canal and Clinton.  The corridor would serve Union Station, Ogilvie Transportation Center, the CTA Red and Blue Line subways, Streeterville and Navy Pier.  A new, off-street transportation center just south of Union Station is also part of the concept.
This BRT project would meet the goals of the Chicago Central Area Action Plan by promoting transit, bicycle use and walking, thereby making the Central Area even more of an attractive place to do business, visit and live.
The CTA recently installed improvements along Jeffery Boulevard from 103rd Street/Stony Island to Jefferson/Washington to test elements of bus rapid transit systems, and continues to work with CDOT to study the feasibility of future BRT projects on Western and Ashland Avenue corridors. 
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