Pace will use the new coaches to replace older buses and those leased from MCI, on its poplar bus on shoulder service, which debuted in 2011 between Chicago and the southwest suburbs.
Pace recently announced it is increasing service on its bus on shoulder routes due to the dramatic ridership increases. Pace’s bus on shoulder program, which began in 2011, currently uses 14 MCI Commuter Coach buses on the I-55 shoulder when traffic in regular lanes is flowing at less than 35 miles per hour.
The buses using the shoulder cannot travel at speeds greater than 35 mph, or 15 mph faster than the flow of regular traffic—whichever is less. Special signage and roadway markings show where buses can use the shoulder, and the buses have markings indicating authorization to use the shoulder.
Shoulder riding has been cited to be one of the most affordable options for implementing bus rapid transit on highways because it is less expensive to modify shoulders than it is to construct new roadways, and it requires little capital investment compared with rail alternatives. Pace officials say the buses are reducing travel times through one of Chicago’s most congested corridors, and more commuters are leaving cars at home.
Built to offer maximum performance and safety at highway speeds, the MCI Commuter Coaches feature plush, forward-facing seats along with individual temperature controls and reading lights, and a smooth ride for a tour-level riding experience that transcends typical transit. The new coaches come equipped with wheelchair lifts and clean-diesel engine technology for near-zero emissions. Pace is also adding optional security cameras, special bus on shoulder graphics and “do not follow” warnings on the back of the bus.
“The Bus on shoulder program has been effective at helping combat the Chicago area’s chronically jammed expressway system, and we are very pleased that Pace has once again selected the MCI Commuter Coach,” said Patrick Scully, executive vice president of MCI. “We’re proud that our Commuter Coach offers the best mean distance between failures among all types of bus models, reinforcing our reliability driven promise to offer the highest quality coaches, parts and service.”