Pace buses to operate on shoulder to avoid congestion
By Chrissy Mancini Nichols
Mar 3, 2011
This post first appeared at metroplanning.org
Don’t be alarmed if you’re driving on I-55 and a bus passes you on the shoulder. It’s part of a new two-year demonstration project that will allow Pace busses to travel in the shoulder lanes during peak travel times to avoid congestion, reduce travel times, and have a more consistent schedule. The demonstration project will begin in November on Pace routes 755 and 855, which make stops at park-and-ride lots between the southwest suburbs and downtown Chicago along I-55. The 30-mile I-55 corridor was selected because of frequent peak time congestion and wide shoulders.
The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) will monitor the new service to determine the effects on traffic, safety, and transit service quality. If the two-year demonstration project is successful, the service may become permanent and possibly be expanded to other expressways.
This “bus-on-shoulder” express service is based on a model that has been used successfully in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area since 1991. There, busses traveling on the I-94 and I-35W expressways are allowed to use the shoulders when traffic in the adjacent highway lanes are moving at less than 35 mph. The busses in the shoulder lanes cannot travel more than 15 mph faster than the rest of traffic, and may not exceed speeds of 35 mph. According to the Illinois Dept. of Transportation, Pace busses in the demonstration project will follow the speed restrictions used in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Running busses in the shoulder during rush hour allows riders to get to their destination faster AND no roads have to be built or new stock purchased. MPC supports these types of innovative projects that maximize the use of existing transit, roads, bridges, and freight rail. This project is a great example of how to squeeze more capacity from our existing transit and roads.