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City launches designated bus lane pilot on South, West sides

The “Essential Bus Lanes” program is designed to reduce delays and bunching on two of the CTA’s busiest routes, the #66 and #79 buses, and prevent crowding as traffic slowly returns to pre-pandemic levels, officials said.

Designs for designated bus lanes at 79th Street CTA station.
Designs for designated bus lanes at 79th Street CTA station.
CTA

Traffic lanes on 79th Street and on Chicago Avenue on the South and West sides will be designated for CTA buses under a city pilot program aimed at encouraging social distancing between riders, officials announced Monday.

A 24-hour dedicated bus lane will be installed on a lane in each direction on 3 miles of 79th from Cicero to Western avenues, and on 4.6 miles of Chicago Avenue from Laramie to Ashland, the city’s Department of Transportation said.

The “Essential Bus Lanes” program is designed to reduce delays and bunching on two of the CTA’s busiest routes, the #66 and #79 buses, and prevent crowding as traffic slowly returns to pre-pandemic levels, officials said.

Together, the two routes provide service to nearly 20,000 riders each day, officials said.

Installation will “begin in the coming weeks” and the pilot program is expected to be in effect for at least six months, officials said.

“Under the pilot project, right turns will be permitted at all intersections and current curbside access will be maintained. Parking, loading zones and driveways will not be affected.”

“CTA bus service is a critical part of Chicago’s transportation network that has provided a lifeline for many of our most essential workers throughout the pandemic,” CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi said. “As we continue to re-imagine how we use our streets, CDOT is committed to working with the CTA to prioritize bus service and making it the go-to option for safe and reliable travel around the City.”