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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

Popular 79th Street Bus Route Could Get Major Upgrades, Including New Bus Lanes

Upgrades to the route would include the installation of designated bus lanes, new pavement markings and curb extensions.

Lee Edwards/Block Club Chicago
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CHATHAM — The 79th Street bus, one of the busiest routes in the city, is likely getting some upgrades thanks to a city plan to fix “slow zones” along major transit routes.

The proposed improvements to the No. 79 bus would include the installation of designated bus lanes, new pavement markings/signs and curb extensions. Details on which specific intersections will receive the upgrades have yet to be released.

The announcement was made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office on Sunday as part of his 2019 budget. City Council will meet next month to vote on the budget.

The initial rollout of the plan will include the No. 79 bus route and the No. 66 Chicago Avenue lines. The decisions to upgrade these specific routes were made based on CTA and Chicago Department of Transportation studies that factored in feasibility, ridership, operations, population/employment and coverage area.

“…These improvements will help make Chicago the first city to look at a citywide plan specifically around buses,” Emanuel said in a statement. “It’s a smart way to strengthen smart growth in our city and enhance the way we live, work and get around Chicago.”

The proposed plan is a continuation of Emanuel’s June proposal to expand the city’s transit-oriented development policy to include high-ridership, high-frequency CTA bus routes.

Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said in a statement that improving speed, reliability and customer satisfaction — while also increasing ridership — are among the goals. 

In 2017, the No. 79 bus recorded 7.8 million rides while the No. 66 Chicago Avenue lines recorded 6.9 million rides.

Credit: Lee Edwards/Block Club Chicago
The No. 79 79th Street bus route is an essential mode of transportation for several South Side neighborhoods.