City Announces Extended Routes, Service for South Side Bus and Rail Lines

#26 South Shore Express CTA Bus Stop Sign
Bus stop sign for the #26 South Shore Express. Photo: Jeff Zoline

For all his warts, Mayor Emanuel has a strong record on improving public transportation, including initiatives like the South Red Line reconstruction, the Loop Link bus rapid transit corridor, the Your New Blue rehab, and several completed and in-progress station construction projects. Today’s announcement that several South Side bus and rail lines will have more frequent service and/or extended routes also appears to be a step in the right direction.

Six bus routes and two branches of the south Green Line are affected:

Having a continuous route down 95th seems logical, since this is one of the city’s major thorughfares, with plenty of retail and other destinations. Extending the Cottage Grove bus will improve access to the Pullman National Monument.

The mayor also announced that the Cottage Grove and Ashland/63rd branches of the Green Line will see increased frequency during the morning and evening rush hours.

“With this expansion, the CTA is continuing the important work of connecting more residents to jobs and economic opportunities,” Emanuel said in a statement. “This announcement builds on the strides we have made to improve connections to and from downtown.”

Announcements of new initiatives on the South and West Sides have become more common this year as the mayor seeks to repair his image in the wake of the Laquan McDonald case. However, Emanuel continues to show more interest in leveling the playing field for residents of underserved communities, including better transit access to jobs and schools, that can only be a good thing for the city.

  • Anne A

    FInally! The 95E and 95W routes will be combined and the 4 will be extended to 115th St. These are welcome changes.

  • urbanleftbehind

    If it still had the branch to Bush and 83rd/Jeffrey it would be the most longest and exasperating route ever – I used to take the 87th and then take the long wait for a 349 or 49A (when it existed) for Plaza trips.

    The 4 changes could be an indication of CSU being hollowed out by its state budget situation and also an admission of the Red Line extension being DOA.

  • Anne A

    The 95W and 381 (Pace) can be really hit or miss. With 3 busy grade crossings (Eggleston-freight, Vincennes-Metra and freight, Wood-Metra) between the red line and Western, travel times on that segment can be unpredictable. The 95E is much more predictable due to grade separations.

    It seems like more freight traffic has shifted further west, so 95W and 381 rides have involved a lot fewer long waits for freight trains in the last few years.

    I would partially attribute the 4 change to the National Park status of the Pullman historic site, making it a more popular destination. Indefinite status of the red line extension could also be a factor.

  • Anne A

    I think the Ashland bus is the longest and most exasperating route ever. Your mileage may vary…

  • david vartanoff

    you are correct about freight shifting, and the need on the SW side to pursue grade separations as was done on the SE side before WWII. The other reality is that the longer a given bus route, all other thingsbeing equal, the greater the potential for delays/bunching/unreliable service.

    As to the red line extension, the far better plan is to do the Gray Line makeover of the MED (including running shutlles to Hegewisch on the South Shore with the 4 stations between there and Kensington which existed in the 50s restored to serve the same general areaat vastly lower cost .
    A further improvement for riders of the 95W would be integrating Rock Island Line Metra fares w/CTA from Blue Island north.
    Giving riders more options closer to home all at the same CTA fares will cut net transit time.

  • urbanleftbehind

    I have often felt that CTA fares should be brought in line to fare levels A-B-C of Metra to facilitate fare integration. Since the services are different in nature and do not always provide radial service to the CBD from which to gauge distance, I think you could do something like this. CTA local or express bus not originating from the CBD would be the intrazone A-A Metra fare. CTA bus departing CBD (whether local or express) would be A-B Metra fare, and CTA el/subway would be A-C. A E-W or N-S route completely out of the CBD e.g. a 79th St or a Kedzie bus would be the A-A rate for both trips.

  • david vartanoff

    Too complex. Simple CTA fare anywhere within CTA territory good on Metra. Implement POP on all Metra lines; you tap before boarding, a random fare checker might challenge you carrying a mini-card reader. Works on Caltrain which is a clone of Metra (push-pull diesels, gallery coaches)
    From a taxpayer/rider perspective, it is all the same system of public transit.