Bus Rapid Transit - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Bus Rapid Transit

Chicago's new route to opportunity


BRT provides rail-like speed, convenience and community benefits at a fraction of the cost

An effective transportation network makes connections—between people and the places they want and need to go, between businesses and customers, and between neighborhoods and the broader city and region. Chicago's rapid transit network was built with the assumption that most travelers needed to go downtown, leading to our hub-and-spoke system of rail lines that converge on the Loop. Cross-town trips—those that do not need to pass through downtown—require slow bus trips.

Over 10 million people travel by bus each year on the north-south Ashland corridor—more than some Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) rail lines—but they must endure delays and unreliable service. Even many bus trips within the Loop, such as between Union Station and Millennium Park, are delayed by automobile traffic, increasing commute times for workers and reducing productivity.


Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a new standard of transit service that provides rail-like speed and convenience at a fraction of the cost of installing rail. 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.

Gold standard BRT includes four key elements that make it truly a rapid transit experience: dedicated bus lanes, pay-before-you-board stations, signal prioritization and at-grade boarding. After piloting some elements of BRT on Jeffery Boulevard; the City of Chicago is building Loop Link in 2015.

Planning is also underway for a world-class, center-running BRT service on Ashland Avenue. MPC strongly supports this vision and is continuing to work with the City to identify economic development opportunities along the Ashland corridor, as well as to explore the potential for a citywide BRT plan.


  • BRT will provide new connectivity to neighborhoods that otherwise lack good transportation access.
  • Loop Link, BRT in the Central Loop, will improve connectivity within the region's primary business district, linking people to jobs and multiple modes of public transportation.
  • BRT on Ashland Avenue will create essential north-south connections while linking to existing CTA and Metra rail stations.
  • BRT's enhanced service and substantial, neighborhood-defining stations will generate high-potential opportunities for community and economic development along the Ashland corridor.
  • MPC's interactive maps of Ashland Avenue and Garfield Boulevard detail these corridors' current assets and show how they could benefit from BRT.

Learn more

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616 info@metroplanning.org

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