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Pace Plans New Bus Service on I-90

The Illinois State Toll Authority and Pace are joining forces to implement new bus service on the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90). Initially, Pace will expand service on two existing bus routes, but long-term plans include the creation of four new Park & Ride locations, as well as four new bus routes. These improvements are part of a larger project to reconstruct the Jane Addams Tollway and add managed lanes that can accommodate transit. The federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) administered by CMAP is contributing $38 million to help Pace and the Tollway implement bus service on the additional new lane planned for the I-90 Addams expressway.

Recognizing the opportunities for transit and managed lanes, the Illinois Tollway established the I-90 Corridor Planning Council to help build consensus on these strategies in 2011. The Council, which was co-chaired by CMAP, recommended utilizing managed lanes for congestion pricing, where drivers willing to pay a higher fee use the lanes to travel faster during congested periods. Transit use can also be facilitated on these lanes. CMAP recently launched a congestion pricing campaign to implement express toll lanes on five GO TO 2040 expressway projects, including the additional new lane planned for I-90, to manage traffic and give drivers choices. The Tollway received federal funding last year to study the potential for managed lanes on I-90.

Adding bus service in managed lanes brings the region closer to development of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) services. BRT provides a faster transit trip through technology improvements, dedicated rights of way, faster boarding, and other improvements. However, land uses surrounding the region's expressways are generally automobile-oriented and do not have sufficient densities to support high-quality transit services. GO TO 2040 specifically recommends addressing this problem through planning for supportive land use in expressway-based BRT corridors. To guide communities and transportation providers in planning for new stations and station areas in these corridors, CMAP released an analysis of Supportive Land Use for Expressway-based BRT earlier this year.