Skip to Content
Streetsblog Chicago home
Streetsblog Chicago home
Log In
Ashland Avenue Bus

Transit advocates voiced support for 9 Ashland bus extension, transportation committee approved it

A full City Council vote is needed to finalize the project, and the next Council meeting is next Wednesday, July 17.

A 9 Ashland bus. Photo: John Greenfield

This post is sponsored by Boulevard Bikes.

On Wednesday, the City Council's Committee on Transportation & Public Way discussed the CTA's proposal to extend the 9 Ashland Avenue (1600 W.) bus route a mile north to Lawrence Avenue (4800 N.)

The bus route currently turns east on Irving Park Road (4000 N.) and then terminates at Belle Plaine Avenue (4100 N.) and Clark Street (about 1330 W. here), in front of Graceland Cemetery.

The new route will instead go further north to Wilson Avenue (4600 W.), head west to Ravenswood Avenue (1800 W.), and then north to the Ravenswood Metra Union Pacific North line station. The X9 extension is slated to go into effect on August 25, 2024, maintaining existing service frequency.

The existing X9 Ashland Express service will remain the same, heading east on Irving Park to Broadway (860 W.)

The current and planned routes for the 9 Ashland bus. Image: CTA

Ten new bus stops will be created this summer, typically involving the conversion of about four car parking spaces. Meanwhile, removing the existing Belle Plaine/Clark terminal will free up about parking spaces on Clark.

And next year the new Ashland stops will get "bus bulbs," sidewalk extensions that reduce bus "dwell time," the time needed to drop off and pick up passengers, and shorten pedestrian crossing distances. This will also allow for the restoration about 12 car spots by reducing the amount of space needed for the bus stops.

This extended bus route will help fill an existing north-south service gap, serving 21,500 more residents and providing access to 15,000 more jobs, according to the CTA. However, some neighbors have previously made dubious claims that more bus service will increase congestion, pollution, and crime in the neighborhood. Someone even launched an anti-Ashland extension Twitter account. So it's good that transit advocates showed up to today's hearing to voice support.

The meeting was held at City Hall and was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. However, some of the panelists were delayed by a prior hearing running long, so the the transportation meeting didn't start until about 1.5 hours later. Unfortunately, because of that, some of the people who had signed up to give testimony before had to leave due to work or other commitments. 

Attendees at the meeting. Photo: Cameron Bolton

There were still plenty of people who stuck around to let their opinions be known, such as Rory Gilchrist, a Lincoln Square resident who works in neighboring Uptown and strongly supports the Ashland extension. "With respect to this project... the current routine [turning east at Irving Park], is a relic of when the Uptown area had streetcars, with today's #9 bus following the route of a long-bygone technology," Gilchrist said. "We shouldn't let those planning choices hamstring us in the present."

"We believe that this extension should be a model for the future," testified Micheál Podgers, policy lead at the grassroots advocacy group Better Streets Chicago. "Last week, the CTA announced its Bus Visioning Project, which will identify service changes in new routings system-wide. This long-awaited, practical change proposed for the #9 Ashland bus is needed across the system to improve service and expand mobility." 

Refreshingly, there wasn’t any blatant NIMBY-ism at the committee hearing but one neighbor voiced a legitimate concern. “[This stretch of Ashland] has been ripped open for sewer lines,” they said. "It has been subject to massive, gaping holes, like 12 inches deep in some places. The street is falling apart. What we're asking is make sure it is supported, make sure it can handle these busses.” Hopefully it was reassuring to them to learn that the Chicago Department of Transportation will repave this stretch of Ashland next year.

Ald. Matt Martin (47th), who helped plan the bus extension, left. Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th), is third from the left. Photo: Cameron Bolton

Regarding neighbors' previous complaints about the plan, transportation committee Vice Chair Andre Vasquez (40th) said he was reminded of something a past colleague said to him: "Everyone wants to see progress but nobody likes seeing change." 

"I think that is a lot of what we recognize here," Vasquez added. "Everybody wants to see the streets fixed, but nobody wants to see the streets fixed [under construction]. So, I think what we've done is an improvement that benefits not only folks in the [40th and 47th wards], but folks across the city. They need to get to work, they need to get to the people they want to connect with through a lot of different means, and so I would like to encourage our colleges to be in support. I will be in support."

Following the comments, there was a vote, with committee members signing off on the project. A full City Council vote is needed to finalize the project, and the next Council meeting is next Wednesday, July 17, at 10 a.m. at City Hall. If you'd like to make a public comment in support of the Ashland extension, read about the testimony protocols here.

Read more about the bus extension plan here.

donate button

Did you appreciate this post? Please consider making a tax-deductible donation, to help keep Streetsblog Chicago's sustainable transportation news and advocacy articles paywall-free.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter