Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Take our survey to show Chicago elected officials that you want BRT now!

We believe right now is the time to bring the conversation around Bus Rapid Transit back to center stage! Previous efforts to bring BRT to Chicago have failed because of a lack of political will and follow-through. Help us consolidate the voices of transit riders across our city by taking our survey. This will allow us to show elected officials that transit riders are a constituency they must pay attention to and that we want expanded public transit options now!

Survey input is collected on a rolling basis and you can still participate!

What is Bus Rapid Transit?

In many ways, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) works less like a bus and more like a CTA train! A few key features of BRT:

- Off-board fare collection: Have you ever been on a bus when a long line of people is boarding? It can take a while! With off-board fare collection, fares are paid when entering the station just like a train, so riders can board at any door and the bus is on its way in just seconds!

- Dedicated lanes: Buses have their own protected lane so they are unaffected by traffic

- Fewer stops: Stops are placed every quarter to half mile

- Transit signal priority: Traffic signals are calibrated to turn green or stay green when a bus approaches

- Travel times: BRT approaches the efficiency of CTA rail with an average expected speed of 16 mph, compared to 21 mph on the Red Line. Travel times are anywhere from 35-50% shorter compared to regular buses, meaning a trip that takes 1 hour on a CTA bus could take as little as 30 minutes with BRT!

- Cost: BRT is often much, much cheaper to construct than subways or elevated rail lines, meaning multiple BRT lines can be constructed for the cost of one rail line

Off-board fare collection in Urumqi, China.

Dedicated bus lanes in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Doesn't Chicago already have Bus Rapid Transit?

The short answer: No! Infrastructure like the Loop Link and routes like the Jeffrey Jump are similar in intention to Bus Rapid Transit, but are light years away from true Bus Rapid Transit.

The Loop Link has a few features of Bus Rapid Transit, but not all.

Jeffrey Jump (J14) express bus route has a few features of Bus Rapid Transit, but they have been implemented piecemeal which causes overall bus performance to still lag behind true BRT. True BRT would include ALL features for the entire length of the route.

Where might BRT be implemented in Chicago?

In 2013, CTA and CDOT unveiled a plan to build BRT on Ashland Avenue between Irving Park Road and 95th Street. While this project ultimately failed because of pushback from residents and a lack of political will, most people associate any mention of BRT with Ashland Avenue because of this proposal. Aside from Ashland, another route that often comes up in conversation around BRT is Western Avenue. One of the primary factors in determining if a street is well-suited to BRT is the width of the road. A study by the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) finds that a road needs to be at least 86 feet wide to accommodate BRT and other road uses like traffic, parking, bike lanes, and comfortable sidewalks. If a road less than 86 feet wide is used, other uses besides BRT may not be able to be accommodated. The image shows routes identified by the MPC study that are at least 86 feet wide.

VIA Metropolitan Planning Council: The BRT routes identified by the study connect with existing CTA and Metra rail to increase accessibility throughout the city, filling in the gaps of the downtown-centric, “hub and spoke” rail network.

Learn more about BRT in other cities!