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Article updated: 6/18/2013 6:19 PM

DuPage to make pitch for more bus shelters

By Robert Sanchez

To encourage people to use public transportation, DuPage officials want to add more bus shelters throughout the county.

But first, they must make another attempt to sell municipalities on the idea.

A proposal to build bus shelters with advertising was scrapped about eight years ago after several communities -- including Glen Ellyn, Lombard, Villa Park and Wheaton -- expressed concerns about the structures serving as mini-billboards.

County board member Elizabeth Chaplin, chairwoman of the board's public transit committee, says it may be time to revisit the issue because some towns, including Woodridge, have added bus shelters without any problems. Meanwhile, DuPage officials want to see increased use of Pace, the suburban bus service.

"Maybe if we had more shelters, more people would be willing to take a bus," Chaplin said.

County officials said Tuesday they plan to make a presentation to municipal leaders during a July meeting of the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference.

Whether towns are receptive this time around remains to be seen. Wheaton Mayor Mike Gresk, however, said he's willing to listen to what county officials have to say.

"I know the demographics of DuPage are changing," Gresk said. "I know that public transportation needs to become important for that reason."

When county officials were pushing the issue years ago, they tried to get new bus shelters along Roosevelt Road because it's a heavily traveled route. Selling advertising was part of that plan because it would have generated the money needed to construct and maintain the shelters.

County board member Robert Larsen said he understands why there was opposition.

"You could have a nice looking shelter," Larsen said. "You throw in advertising all the time and that becomes obnoxious."

Still, adding bus shelters is an idea "worth exploring," Larsen said.

"Any opportunity we have to expand public ridership is a good thing for the environment," said Larsen, who serves on the public transit committee. "It's a good thing for traffic congestion."

Statistics show adding bus shelters helps boost ridership, according to county board member Tony Michelassi.

"We want to be able to finance bus shelters across the county, and we're setting up a framework to do that," said Michelassi, vice chairman of the public transit committee. "But it's up to the municipalities to decide if it's a priority."

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