By Tracy Swartz
2:08 PM CDT, June 8, 2011
CTA riders who take a Jeffery Boulevard bus on the South Side could see their commutes shortened by up to seven minutes during rush hour, under the proposed bus rapid transit plans the CTA unveiled Wednesday.
It takes the No. 14 Jeffery Express about 71 minutes, 30 seconds to travel from 103rd Street and Stony Island Avenue to Washington and Jefferson Streets in peak hours, the CTA estimated.
That commute time would be cut to nearly 65 minutes if bus-only lanes were implemented on the South Side of Jeffery Boulevard and buses on that street got priority in traffic over cars, the agency said.
The CTA showcased its bus rapid transit plans at an open house Wednesday in Avalon Park. A second open house will be held Thursday at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St., from 6-8 p.m.
The CTA was awarded an $11 million federal grant last year to test bus rapid transit on Jeffery Boulevard. The CTA is in the design phase of the project. Construction is expected to take place spring through summer next year with service anticipated to begin in fall 2012.
Antonio Reed of Englewood said it takes him about an hour to ride the No. 14 bus everyday from 95th Street and Jeffery Boulevard to State and Madison Streets.
"I like the project but I'm still trying to figure out what it will look like overall," said Reed, 19.
Meanwhile, the Active Transportation Alliance, which advocates for walking and bike and transit riding, said it's on board with the bus rapid transit proposal.
"The new BRT elements that the CTA is implementing on the Jeffery Corridor are exciting improvements to service for riders and a big step forward toward implementing a full-scale BRT network in Chicago," said Lee Crandell, the group's director of campaigns.
Among the CTA's proposals:
>> Bus-only lanes: The area between 67th and 83rd Streets on Jeffery Boulevard would be for buses only on the northbound side from 7-9 a.m. and on the southbound side from 4-6 p.m.
During the other times, cars would be allowed to park in the lane. Bike lanes are not expected to be implemented for this area.
>> New and improved bus shelters: Thirteen existing shelters would be upgraded, including two shelters at Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard. Nine bus shelters would be added between 67th and 103rd Streets on the northbound side of Jeffery Boulevard.
The shelters would have Bus Tracker displays, sidewalk ramps accessible for people with disabilities, bike racks and landscape planters.
>> Fewer stops on Jeffery Boulevard: On the South Side, many stops would be at major intersections, about a half-mile apart, instead of at every block. The No. 15 Jeffery Local route would supplement service.
>> Showcase showdown: A "commercial showcase" station would be built at 71st Street and Jeffery Boulevard. The shelter would have a weather canopy, a farecard vending machine and crosswalk paving.
Meanwhile, a "residential showcase" station at 100th Street and Paxton Avenue would have special crosswalks for pedestrians.
>> Transit signal priority: Traffic signals between 73rd Street and 84th Street on Jeffery Boulevard would provide an early or extended green light so buses could get through the intersection more quickly.
Meanwhile, a bypass lane would be set up on Jeffery Boulevard at Anthony Avenue. A special traffic signal there would allow the bus to go through an intersection ahead of general traffic.
>> Bus enhancements: Fifty-three buses from the 103rd Street garage would be updated. Buses could be equipped with Bus Tracker so riders could anticipate transfer and arrival times.
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