A follower tweeted  to us yesterday, “Let’s get real bus rapid transit on Ashland/Western before we spend more money to get suburbanites to Navy Pier.” It’s an understandable concern, but when you look at the proposal a little closer it doesn’t hold up. While CDOT’s map of the Central Loop BRT  does make it look like bus routes to Navy Pier will receive a big share of the improvements, the fact is that the project is targeted to speed Chicagoans’ daily bus trips.
The Central Loop BRT project’s decreased travel times of 3 to 9 minutes per trip  will benefit mostly Chicagoans. Bus-only lanes and island boarding areas on Madison, Washington, Canal, and Clinton Streets will serve 11 bus routes with 93,764 daily passengers. Just one of these routes visits Navy Pier: the aptly named 124-Navy Pier, with only 822 weekday riders.
So thousands of city residents will have quicker trips from their neighborhoods to jobs in the Loop, to the Metra stations, and to shopping on State Street and Michigan Avenue. Additionally, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of workers at Navy Pier who will get to their jobs faster.
Two of the routes, 124 and 125, are strictly downtown routes. All the others pass between neighborhoods and the Loop. Their average weekday ridership in December 2012 [PDF ] is listed below:
1 Bronzeville/Union Station: 2,623
J14 Jeffery Jump: 11,810
20 Madison: 19,923
28 Stony Island: 5,041
56 Milwaukee: 10,406
60 Blue Island/26th: 10,436
124 Navy Pier: 822 (the only route that reaches Navy Pier)
125 Water Tower Express: 1,496
126 Jackson: 6,564
151 Sheridan: 20,157
157 Streeterville/Taylor: 4,486