BRT Planned for Western and Ashland AvenuesThe Chicago Transit Authority presented preliminary plans for “bus rapid transit,” or BRT, Thursday evening at Lane Tech High School. In what amounted to an open house, dozens of CTA employees displayed panels and entertained the questions of interested citizens. Bus rapid transit consists of a dedicated “bus only” traffic lane along either the median or the curb. Existing hybrid electric buses would stop only at sheltered stations about every half mile and rail rapid transit stations. The current CTA plan is for BRT along Ashland Avenue from Irving Park Road south to 95th Street and on Western Avenue from Berwyn south to 79th Street. The current CTA fair cards and Chicago cards would be used as on any other CTA bus or train. The BRT would require significant roadway redesign. In order to accommodate the two bus only lanes, either traffic lanes or parking lanes, or some combination thereof, would have to be eliminated. Preliminary traffic studies suggest only a modest reduction in passenger car speeds because of the reduced number of traffic lanes. Bus rapid transit is reminiscent of the old streetcars and electric buses that traveled Western and Ashland Avenues decades ago. At one time, the City of Chicago had one of the largest “street railway” systems in the world. Buses replaced streetcars in the 1950s after the CTA took over the private transit systems. All streetcars left service by 1958. Overhead electric buses stayed in service until 1976. Approval and installation of BRT is at least two to five years away and contingent upon federal funding. Find more information at the CTA BRT website.