Pace expands service between Plainfield, Chicago
BY BOB OKON email@example.com April 30, 2013 12:16PM
ON INTERSTATE 55
More Pace bus trips during rush hours between Plainfield and the Chicago Loop.
New midday and evening bus trips for shopping, dining and other leisure activities.
Shuttle bus for Metra Heritage Corridor Line riders to stations in Lemont, Lockport and Joliet.
Updated: June 2, 2013 6:08AM
Expanded Pace service on Interstate 55 is aimed at making commuting more convenient not only for bus riders but for train commuters, too.
Pace on April 30 announced that it will add trips, as of April 29, to its express buses running between Plainfield and downtown Chicago, the fastest-growing routes in the suburban bus network.
Pace also will try to accommodate commuters on Metra’s limited Heritage Corridor Line service by offering a nighttime shuttle bus to the Lemont, Lockport and Joliet Metra stations, also beginning April 29.
Pace officials said they’re responding to growing ridership on the I-55 Express buses, which can bypass traffic jams by riding on the shoulder, and customer demand for more convenience and flexibility.
Pace Board chairman Rick Kwasneski noted the on-shoulder routes started less than two years ago.
“I think a lot of people were skeptical if it was going to work, how it was going to work,” Kwasneski said. “It’s been great.”
He said access to the highway shoulder has increased on-time arrival rates for the I-55 buses from 61 percent previously to more than 90 percent now.
Ridership on Route 755 from Plainfield to the Loop has increased from an average of 40 passengers a day when shoulder riding began in November 2011 to 137 a day in March. Route 855 ridership, also between Plainfield and the Loop, has increased from 281 a day to 451 over the same period.
Those two routes have the fastest growing ridership in the Pace network, Kwasneski said.
Pace also will double rush-hour trips on Route 755 to a total of four and add a midday round trip. The late-evening trip, which leaves Union Station in Chicago at 7:30 p.m., will include the optional shuttle bus for Metra customers.
That shuttle bus will be available upon request for Heritage Corridor riders. The commuter rail line only runs three trips to and from Union Station a day, and the last one leaves at 6:12 p.m.
The shuttle bus is an option for those riders who can’t catch the last train. The 7:30 p.m. Pace bus from Chicago will take riders to Bolingbrook, where they can take the shuttle to the Heritage Corridor stations in Lemont, Lockport and Joliet.
The expansion on Route 855 includes three new trips in the morning rush hour for a total of 10; two additional trips during the afternoon rush hour for a total of nine; a midday round trip; and an evening trip.
Kwasneski said the additional midday and evening trips are an option for those going downtown for shopping or entertainment.
“You can have the excitement of going to Chicago without driving in traffic,” he said.
Pace is looking at more improvements on the I-55 Express routes. State highway officials are reviewing a policy that stops shoulder riding at Kedzie Avenue because the shoulder becomes narrower there than the 12-foot standard. Allowing more shoulder riding would make the trip quicker.
The Pace route expansions were announced at one of the two Park-n-Ride Pace stops in Bolingbrook. Both lots contained a large number of cars, and Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar said the ability of the bus to bypass traffic jams has made the Pace service popular with riders.
“I’ll be the first to admit when I heard about it, I thought, ‘Are you serious? You’re going to put a bus on the shoulder?’” Claar said. “But I’ve seen it. It works.”