The Illinois House approved a plan this week to permanently allow Pace buses to drive on the shoulder of I-55 in hopes of someday expanding the practice to more areas of the suburbs.
The Bus on Shoulders program was started in 2011 to allow faster travel during busy traffic periods and is set to expire in 2016. Pace Deputy Executive Director Rocky Donahue has said the current push was made because the agency wants to start planning the expansion now.
Pace wants to expand the program to I-90, possibly from Elgin to Rosemont eventually, and it might look to expand it to I-94, I-57, and I-290 later.
"It's a credit to the good work of the people at Pace to make this program work so well," state Rep. Bob Rita, a Blue Island Democrat, said. "I am hopeful we can get this bill through the Senate and to the governor this spring so we can really move Bus on Shoulders and its riders ahead."
According to a ridership survey done by Pace, the original program met with success as buses showed up on time more than 90 percent of the time, up from only 68 percent of the time before the program, and bus use has also been up.
Gov. Pat Quinn laid out a road plan this week but is still looking for more revenue, which would be needed to repair and widen some of the areas Pace buses would look to use in the future.