Chicago (CBS) — The Loop Link CTA bus priority lanes were created to make bus travel faster and reduce congestion by taking cars off the street. But, drivers say downtown is more congested than ever.
“It’s a mess,” one driver said. “I been in Chicago my whole life. It’s just too many cars. It’s not solving anything.”
Now, Mayor Emanuel’s transportation team wants to bring bus-only lanes to some parts of two of the CTA’s busiest routes — Chicago Avenue and 79th Street.
“You need to think of it as moving more people, not just moving more vehicles. Buses take cars off the road,” said Rebekah Scheinfeld, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation.
The mayor cites another obstacle for bus lanes, which also triggers Loop congestion.
“There are people, like FedEx and UPS that park, and also more importantly the post office, that park in one of those lanes,” Emanuel said.
Police, he says, are stepping up enforcement, but there’s another reason for congestion.
“The research indicates that in the Loop and some parts of Chicago, ride hailing, like Uber and Lyft, has been contributing to more traffic and more traffic congestion,” said Ron Burke of Active Transport Alliance.
In fact, from 2015 to 2017, the number of ride-share cars on Chicago streets increased 339% with nearly 118,000 on the road at any time. One proposed solution is designated pick-up and drop-off areas for ride-sharing vehicles in heavily congested areas.
“There’s a lot of concern about the congestion they’re causing, parking in loading zones, parking in bike lanes. We need to do better,” Burke said.
Active Transportation Alliance hopes Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot will take a hard look at implementing that idea. The Alliance strongly supports Loop bus lanes and so does the city, saying in congested areas, giving buses priority over cars just makes sense.