Connecting jobs to transit

  • High local employment, high transit availability
  • High local employment, low transit availability
  • Low local employment, high transit availability
  • Low local employment, low transit availability

Connecting jobs to available transit

There are several steps regional actors need to take to make transit a more competitive option, including focusing on connections between jobs and the transit network. Transit systems work better when they serve more concentrated demand: The more people who are near transit, the more use it. CMAP’s analysis found that placement of jobs is even more important than placement of households in increasing transit use. Click on a location below to read how transit improvements around the Chicago region are connecting residents to employment centers.

Darkest to lightest: High local employment, high transit availability; high local employment, low transit availability; Low local employment, high transit availability; Low local employment, low transit availability
Source: CMAP analysis
  • Jane Addams
  • Red Line Extension
  • Loop Link
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Jane Addams

The $2.5 billion I-90 Rebuilding and Widening projects was completed in 2016 and features a 16-mile SmartRoad that incorporates active traffic management using cameras, sensors and overhead gantries to more quickly bring detailed roadway information to drivers so they are better able to make personal travel decisions. The road was also designed to accommodate transit for the first time in Pace’s history with Flex Lanes dedicated for Pace bus-on-shoulder travel. Pace will also operate three new Park-n-Ride stations along the Tollway.

The project, which was partially funded through federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAP) grants, sets up the road for a future with increased transit use and gives residents and employees of the region additional options to get to work and home.

Read more about strategies for improving highway management and operation, which can reduce congestion in the region in the Highway Operations strategy paper.


























Using these Flex Lanes, buses can by-pass slow traffic, thus reducing customers' travel time and staying on schedule.

Shoulder riding is one of the most affordable options for implementing rapid bus service on expressways and tollways because it is less expensive to modify shoulders than it is to construct new roadways. Bus service on bus-only shoulders increases the reliability and attractiveness of public transportation.


Connection to jobs

Region-wide, nearly 50 percent of all jobs (including those in downtown Chicago) are located within one mile of an expressway entrance or exit. GO TO 2040 emphasizes the need to provide improved jobs-housing connections as a way to reduce congestion and commute times, and providing enhanced transit like BRT on our expressways offers the opportunity to improve access to the region's employment centers. While the distances involved and the less-concentrated nature of development in expressway corridors present a significant challenge to providing transit services, improved transit in these areas could provide more reverse commute and suburb-to-suburb commute options. However, creating supportive land use patterns is critical to the long-term success of these expressway-based transit lines. Read more in the CMAP report, Land Use Policies and Strategies for Expressway-based bus Rapid Transit.


Red Line Extension

The Chicago Transit Authority is proposing to extend the Red Line from the existing terminal at 95th/Dan Ryan to 130th Street. The proposed 5.2 mile extension would include four new stations near 103rd Street, 11th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street. Each new station would include bus and parking facilities. The total cost of the project is expected to be $2.3 billion.

“The Red Line Extension project is a transformational project to expand transit to Chicago’s southern border and create faster access to jobs, education and opportunity,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr in a CTA press release.


Extending the CTA Red Line south to 130th Street as recommended by GO TO 2040 would significantly improve access to job opportunities, educational institutions, health facilities, and other resources for Greater Roseland residents. Read a report supported by CMAP's Local Technical Assistance Program on the Red Line Extension.


Why is the Red Line Extension Project important? 

• Expanded access and service improvements – The Red Line Extension would improve service and transit accessibility for Far South Side neighborhoods where transit-dependent residents currently lack direct access to rail service.

• Reduced commute times – Between 2005 and 2010, commute times were, on average, 20 percent longer for those that currently live in the area that would be served by the Red Line Extension, than for other commuters in the Chicago region. The Red Line Extension would save the average commuter in the communities affected by this project 87 hours per year.

• Catalyst for economic growth – CTA estimates between 2,600 and 4,100 jobs would be created during Red Line Extension construction. In addition, new stations may serve as catalysts for neighborhood revitalization and help reverse decades of disinvestment in local business districts.

• Enhanced livability – The improvements would also provide linkages to affordable housing, jobs, services, and educational opportunities – enhancing livability and neighborhood vitality.

(Could use a studio interview here of someone with an extremely long commute)


The travel times for residents of Greater Roseland are much longer than that of Chicago as a whole.


Loop Link

Loop Link is a new bus-rapid-transit system deployed in Chicago’s Loop. It’s a fast, easy and reliable option for getting around Chicago’s congested downtown, connecting people to jobs, businesses and attractions from Union and Ogilvie Stations to Michigan Avenue. Similar to “L” trains, the Loop Link moves people quickly using dedicated bus lanes while making limited stops at train-like stations along the way.

The Loop Link uses dedicated lanes on Washington, Madison, Clinton and Canal to move people through downtown, improving reliability and speed for six bus routes in the area and extending benefits to neighborhoods throughout the city where these routes originate.

Bicycle travel in the Loop has also improved with protected bike lanes on Washington, Randolph and Clinton. In addition, the new Union Station Transit Center will help connect Metra and Amtrak riders to the CTA network, providing easy access to downtown destinations.

The project will strengthen Chicago’s economy by improving access to jobs and attractions downtown, while generating foot traffic to businesses along the way. By making it easier to get to work and go about daily activities, Loop Link improves everyday life for residents, employees and visitors.



What are the benefits of Loop Link?

(According to CTA)

  • Faster and more reliable bus service.
  • Nearly 30,000 people per day can stay on schedule with buses that avoid traffic and subsequent bus build-up using dedicated lanes and traffic signal upgrades that provide buses an early green light.
  • Riders now get on and off at stations that make it easy for everyone to safely board, including seniors and people using wheelchairs or pushing strollers.
  • Riders will stay comfortable and dry at longer, covered stations equipped with Bus Tracker displays and other amenities.
  • Every weekday, 1,000 buses traveling across Chicago on six different routes will utilize the Loop Link corridor, making it easier for more people to access jobs, shopping and attractions downtown. The Loop Link will make it easier for families to use Metra or the CTA to connect to attractions in Streeterville and River North, such as Navy Pier, Millennium Park and the Children’s Museum.


Connection between transit and jobs.

Given that the existing transit network is largely a hub-and-spoke system oriented toward commutes to downtown Chicago, it is no surprise that even modest increases in CBD employment had a very large effect on ridership. High parking prices and auto congestion approaching downtown certainly would contribute to this effect, as well. Downtown Chicago is our region’s strongest transit market. Increasing the number of jobs in the CBD had more than 10 times the effect on transit mode share than increasing the number of jobs by the same amount within a quarter-mile of stations in the region outside the CBD.

To read more about how to increase transit ridership, read the Transit Ridership Growth Study.