The first phase of a closely watched Chicago bus project would “maximize street potential” along more than five miles of Ashland Avenue for about $50 million, city officials announced Friday.
The project would establish bus rapid transit (BRT) along that congested artery from 31st Place to Cortland Avenue. The city will study possible extensions stretching as far south as 95th Street and as far north as Irving Park Road, according to a statement from the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Department of Transportation.
“Bus rapid transit is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to expand and modernize our city’s transit network for the 21st century,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in the statement. “We will work with our local communities to best determine how to maximize the positive impacts BRT would provide to riders, while boosting local economic development and improving quality of life for all city residents.”
The first BRT system in the world was the Rede Integrada de Transporte, implemented in Curitiba, Brazil in 1974. BRT systems are common in South America and include those in Bogota and Cali, Colombia; Curitiba and Sao Paolo, Brazil; Quito, Ecuador; and Mexico City, Mexico. In Latin America, alone, there are 32 cities with BRT, representing one quarter of the world’s total length of BRT corridors. These systems serve a whopping two-thirds of global BRT ridership, or 18 million people per day. Other successful systems are found in Istanbul, Turkey; Ahmedabad, India; and Guangzhou, China.