Pace will begin a new service starting Nov. 14, allowing two bus routes to drive on the shoulder of the Stevenson Expressway to avoid traffic congestion and save customer's riding time.
Bus routes 755 and 855 will be permitted to drive on the inside shoulders of the Stevenson Expressway between Interstate 355 and Kedzie Avenue, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced.
The buses will be able to use the inside shoulder as a passing lane only when traffic is moving slower than 35 mph. Once they are in the shoulder they are not allowed to travel 15 mph over the top speed of vehicles in the express lanes and never greater than 35 mph, said IDOT.
"We are excited for the potential of the Bus on Shoulder program to encourage the use of mass transit and reduce congestion at a time when people are looking to practice green transportation," Diana O'Keefe, regional engineer for IDOT's Region 1, said in a statement.
Pace buses will be permitted to use the shoulder for inbound trips from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. for outbound trips, according to the Pace website, and there will be special signs indicating where the buses can use the shoulder lanes.
Gov. Pat Quinn approved a bill in August that allowed the IDOT, the Regional Transportation Authority and Pace to authorize buses driving on the shoulders of the Stevenson Expressway.
Similar programs have been done in Cincinnati, Columbus, Ohio and Miami, Florida, according to Pace. After two-years the IDOT will evaluate the program and determine it's effective and usefulness of improving traffic and bus operations.
"Highways in our region are among the most congested in the country," said Richard Kwasneski, Pace Chairman of the Board, in a release. "We're excited to offer commuters a viable alternative that will save them time and money."
The IDOT will host a free information webinar Thursday from 12 p.m.-1 p.m., which will present the concept and project guidelines.