Shoulder-riding buses expand to Edens Expressway
Mild-mannered Pace bus Route 620 has a secret identity. Once traffic slows to 35 mph on the Edens Expressway, it morphs into Route 620 Bus on Shoulder, capable of powering through the suburbs' worst congestion.
The Edens is the third area highway where Pace has introduced express buses authorized to use the shoulder lane in heavy traffic. Pace, Regional Transportation Authority and Illinois Department of Transportation officials launched the new service at an event in Buffalo Grove Monday.
"When there's congestion on the roadway, bus-on-shoulder service is faster and more reliable than driving," Pace Chairman Richard Kwasneski said in a statement.
"Commuters see that and choose our service over their cars. We believe they will do the same in the Lake-Cook region and are excited to partner with IDOT on this project."
Pace bus drivers on Routes 620 and 626 can shift to the outside shoulder lane once vehicles slow to 35 mph or less.
The program ensures buses are punctual and that's golden, Pace officials said.
On the Stevenson Expressway (I-55), on-time performance shot up from 65 percent to over 90 percent and ridership burgeoned by 600 percent under the shoulder-riding program.
With the new Edens service, Pace planners expect to see growth on the buses that serve commuters traveling to jobs along Lake-Cook Road.
Pace pioneered shoulder-riding buses on I-55 in 2011 and introduced the program on the Jane Addams Tollway last year.
A fourth effort could include the Central Tri-State Tollway between Rosemont and Oak Lawn, which the Illinois Tollway is rebuilding.
Route 620 travels between the CTA Dempster Station in Skokie and the Allstate Insurance campus, and Route 626 runs between the Dempster Station and businesses and retail centers in Northbrook, Deerfield, Riverwoods, Buffalo Grove and Lincolnshire.