The CTA Board Wednesday approved the permanent extension of service on the X21 Cermak and X49 Western Express bus routes that were established on an experimental basis a year ago. X49 Western Express buses run only on weekdays, while X21 Cermak Express buses operate on weekends only. Local and express buses on both routes are fully accessible to persons with disabilities.
Western Avenue is the longest street in Chicago, running 23? miles from one end of the city to the other. By providing express service on the most heavily traveled portion of the thoroughfare, CTA created a crosstown route similar to an 'L' line, with stops mainly at streets with connecting bus or 'L' lines.
Ridership on X49 Western Express buses reached a weekday average of 5,900 during September and October. Average weekday ridership on both express and local Western buses now totals 31,100, for an overall gain of 17 percent over the same period of 1998, before express service began.
For X21 Cermak Express buses in September and October, ridership averaged 1,700 on Saturdays and 1,200 on Sundays. Saturday ridership on both express and local Cermak buses now averages 22 percent higher than the same period last year, while Sunday ridership shows a 32 percent gain.
"Both of these new travel options give CTA customers a fast way to get across the city without having to go through downtown to make a connection," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. "The ridership increases achieved on both Western and Cermak show we are meeting a new kind of transit need."
Buses on the X49 Western Express route operate weekdays from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m., making limited stops on Western between Berwyn (5300 North) and the Evergreen Plaza Shopping Center at 95th Street. X21 Cermak Express buses run Saturdays and Sundays on Cermak from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. between 54th Avenue in Cicero and McCormick Place.
CTA President Frank Kruesi said, "The transit system the CTA inherited was designed basically to transport people into the downtown area and to major manufacturing districts. These new express routes provide more versatile service along transit corridors away from the Loop that are experiencing new growth."###