10/17/2012 06:00 pm ET

Chicago Rapid Bus Lanes: First Designs For Ashland And Western Revealed

The CTA intents to add bus rapid transit (BRT) service along Ashland and Western, and revealed initial designs of the nascent plan in a public meeting Tuesday. At this stage, the pair of BRT bus lanes are only in the concept phase; as the Chicago Sun-Times notes, the plan currently has no timetable or financing.

If realized, the two north-south running streets would get a treatment similar to the No. 14 Jeffrey Express, which debuts next month as "The Jeffrey Jump" between between 67th and 83rd. However, the proposed Ashland and Western BRT lanes would run bus-only lanes 24 hours a day, rather than the Jeffrey Jump's morning and evening rush hour only-service.

As the Tribune reports, the two streets were chosen by city officials because "both streets appear to be wide enough to accommodate full-time bus-only lanes without causing serious delays for other traffic."

Chicago Transportation Department spokesman Brian Steele tells the Sun Times that Ashland and Western,—in addition to having the second and third highest bus ridership—intersect with most CTA lines and multiple Metra lines.

With details and decisions months away, the CTA has started the process of drawing up potential designs. Based on initial information from the CTA, there are a number of design alternatives it has outlined on its website.

Other enhancements like transit signal priority systems and median pay kiosks (similar to rail stations) for faster boarding are also being considered.

According to WBEZ, CTA officials say they will present final decisions on the design alternatives this winter. The CTA received $1.6 million in federal funds to study creating the lanes on Ashland and Western, but will need additional funding to begin construction.