Chicago’s BRT-Lite “Loop Link” Finally Links Loop

Washington Street Loop Link BRT configuration (Courtesy of CDOT)

Washington Street Loop Link BRT configuration (Courtesy of CDOT)

The Chicago flavor of Bus Rapid Transit made its debut earlier today, as the first Loop Link buses trundled between Union Station and Michigan Avenue.  The idea is to speed bus pacing through the most congested part of the city by giving buses dedicated lanes and priority at traffic lights, reducing the number of stations, making boarding easier, and eventually implementing a pre-paid fare system to move the Ventra waits from inside the bus to the station platform.

Loop LinkSunday is an easy day to roll out such a system since cross-town buses in the Loop operate somewhat infrequently.  The real test will be tomorrow when the first Monday morning commuters hit the grid.  Though demand should still be below peak because many offices are closed for Christmas week.

Right now the stations are architectural wonders of glass panels waiting for art students to etch them with acid and shiny illuminated metal bollards waiting for taxis to smash into them.

For more on how the system works, and what its shortcomings are, check out the Chicago Tonight’s segment below that aired this past Thursday at WTTW, and the photo gallery of the Loop Link’s first day in operation.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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