In addition to Bus Rapid Transit in dedicated lanes and
BRT) service, rapid transit can exist on expressway corridors. For instance,
buses can use shoulder lanes to 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.
In 2011, thanks to a change in Illinois State law, Pace implemented bus-on-shoulder
service on the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) as a demonstration project. That upgrade
was developed in partnership with IDOT, the Illinois State Police, and RTA. Since
2011, Pace has expanded service along the I-55 corridor several times. The overflowing
parking lots along the I-55 corridor led Pace to expand the existing lots and
develop two new ones in 2016 - at Larry's
Diner in Plainfield and Toyota Park in Bridgeview.
Currently, five bus routes use the I-55 shoulder:
856. In the years since
Pace first got approval to use the shoulder, bus ridership on that corridor has
more than quadrupled, and on-time performance-which
averaged less than 70%--is now over 90%.
In 2014, the Illinois General Assembly enacted legislation permanently allowing
bus-on-shoulder service and expanding that permission to all the region's expressways
and tollways. Pace and the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority are now constructing
a "flex lane" on the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90), which is slated to
open for Pace buses in spring 2017. Pace and IDOT are also studying future bus-on-shoulder
services on the Edens Expressway (I-94).
Another Advantage for Buses on the Expressway: Ramp Metering By-pass
In addition to bus-only shoulders, ramp metering is an effective
method of enabling a bus to by-pass waiting traffic. A ramp meter is a traffic
signal that controls the flow of traffic onto expressways based on the number
of vehicles already on the roadway.
Ramp metering, with queue jump lanes for buses, allows buses to proceed ahead
of other vehicles as they use ramps to enter expressways. While cars are waiting
for a green signal to move onto the expressway, buses use the queue-jump lane
to by-pass waiting traffic.