Jeffery Jump bus

The Jeffery Jump route, introduced in 2012, has elements of bus rapid transit. (May 21, 2013)

Today is the deadline to submit ideas for the Chicago Architecture Foundation's contest to design bus shelters for express bus service that's coming to Ashland Avenue and the Loop.

The "Next Stop" contest was created to encourage conversation about bus rapid transit, express bus service that typically allows bus-only lanes and traffic signal priority over cars, said Ingrid Haftel, associate curator for the Architecture Foundation.

Participants envision how the bus shelters should look in the Loop and on Ashland Avenue, where bus rapid transit is slated to arrive in the next few years. A section of Jeffery Boulevard has had elements of bus rapid transit since last year.

One of the elements expected to be incorporated into the Ashland and Loop service is shelters that will resemble rail stations. CTA officials say riders may be able to pre-pay for express bus service at these stations.

"We want a design that works downtown but also in Chicago neighborhoods," Haftel said. "We're pushing teams to think really about a prototype that's flexible."

Haftel said the foundation hasn't tallied the total number of entries so far, but officials hope to get 30 to 50 submissions. Local transit experts will judge the entries.

First place gets $3,000; second place gets $1,500; third place gets $750. But winners aren't guaranteed their shelters will appear on Chicago corners though it's a possibility.

"We want some ideas that the cities could ultimately use," Haftel said.

The foundation will accept entries through midnight. Registration is $90.

Winners will be announced June 6 at a foundation event.