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 or dedicated lanes. Bus service
on bus-only shoulders has already proven incredibly successful in northeastern
Illinois in increasing 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. 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.
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
increased more than 600%, and on-time performance-which averaged less than 70%--is
now over 90%. 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.
In 2017, Pace and the Illinois Tollway partnered to launch a "flex
lane" on the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90), which is even wider than a standard
shoulder and allows buses to travel up to 50 MPH in the lane. Beginning April
9, 2018, Pace and IDOT will open
on the Edens Expressway (I-94). Routes
626 will use this I-94
shoulder, with other services planned for the future.
Pace buses don't always use the shoulder, even on those highways that allow
it. Pace and IDOT agreed on certain restrictions to shoulder riding, including:
- The bus can use the shoulder only when general traffic slows to less than
- The bus cannot travel faster than 35 MPH while on the shoulder, and cannot
travel more than 15 MPH faster than general traffic.
- If the shoulder has obstructions such as a stalled car or snow, the bus does
not use the shoulder.
Routes that use the shoulder have this logo on the published schedule:
Bus-on-shoulder is not the only form of Bus Rapid Transit which Pace is operating
or has in development. On arterial streets, Pace is pursuing
Pulse service, with the first line launching
Pace's 'Bus on Shoulder'