Loop Link will bring dedicated bus lanes and other people-friendly features to downtown streets.
On Monday, the City of Chicago announced the construction of Loop Link, Chicago's first bus rapid transit. If you've ever tried to take the bus through the Loop at rush hour, you know how much it suffers from traffic congestion: You can usually walk faster than the bus travels. Loop Link will create dedicated bus lanes that stretch from Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center to Michigan Avenue, making it much easier and faster to get across downtown. Large, covered stations will offer bus-level boarding and bus tracker displays. At one station, the CTA will test fare pre-payment, which allows everyone to get on the bus faster and reduce time spent at stops. People walking will enjoy wider sidewalks and shorter crosswalks. People on bikes will have dedicated, protected lanes. People in cars won't have to share lanes and get stuck behind buses or bikes.
Businesses and people are excited for Loop Link, which is scheduled to be ready by the end of 2015. Kyle Barnett, a regional president at BMO Harris Bank, told MPC that "fast, reliable transit service will provide us with greater access to a diverse workforce and strengthen the local economy by improving access to jobs and attractions downtown.” Active Transportation Alliance talked to people around the city, like Courtney Cobbs, a social worker that lives in Edgewater. She often rides the #20 Madison bus and suffers through 20 to 30 minutes of sitting in traffic, which Loop Link will soon allow the bus to bypass. "The city needs to continue to invest more in transit to attract Millennials, save money and improve access to jobs,” she says.
Getting Loop Link started is important not only for the 21,000 people who ride Loop buses every day: It's the first step in building a network of bus rapid transit to improve connectivity and quality of life in our neighborhoods. MPC’s Bus Rapid Transit: Chicago’s New Route to Opportunity lays the groundwork for a 10-route BRT network in Chicago that would provide more equitable transit service to help people access jobs, shops, schools, hospitals and other destinations across the city. Just as Loop Link will make it easier to get around downtown, BRT on Ashland or Garfield will make it easier to get around our neighborhoods and our city.