CHICAGO (WBBM) – Pace express buses will begin riding the shoulders of the Stevenson Expressway this fall, in an attempt to speed up schedules.

Other motorists will not be welcomed.

When traffic is flowing, the buses will continue to use the regular traffic lanes. Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Deputy Executive Director Leanne Redden said the buses will switch to the shoulder only when it bogs down.

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She anticipates that shoulder-riding will begin in November, following upgrades by IDOT to the shoulders and a change in state law necessary to make the buses’ shoulder-riding legal.

“The demonstration is anticipated for a two year period,” Redden said. “We want to test it in all seasons, from both the ridership perspective and an operational perspective.”

Redden said that expressway shoulders have been used successfully by express buses for more than 10 years in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, and said that similar routes are also successful in Kansas City and Cincinnati.

Existing rush-hour 755/Plainfield-Medical District Express and 855/Plainfield-East Loop Express buses will be able to use the Stevenson’s shoulders in both directions between I-355 and County Line Road, LaGrange Road and Central Avenue, and Pulaski to Kedzie.

Other motorists who use the shoulder will still be subject to ticketing, and Redden expects the bus service to be rolled out with police enforcement.

The cost is minimal to Pace or the RTA; in fact, Redden said it may create savings because of the minimizing of time stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Redden said the Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT) essentially needs to move the rumble strip and install signage, which it will do as part of previously-scheduled construction on I-55 that begins March 11.