Route 250 airport bus at Davis Street CTA station.

It’s possible now to take the bus from downtown Evanston to O’Hare Airport, and with a fare of $2.25 cash ($2.00 with a Ventra card), it’s something like 20 times cheaper than a taxi, Uber, or Lyft.

But you’d best not be in a hurry.

Depending on traffic and time of day, the Route 250 bus can take 56-75 minutes from the Davis Street L stop in Evanston to the airport, with 83 potential stops.

But a quicker and, yes, even a nicer bus experience could start as soon as this fall or winter.

Pace, the suburban bus system, is holding two virtual public hearings this week (Wednesday at 5 p.m. and Friday at noon) about the proposed Dempster Street Pulse Line.

Pulse is a limited-stop service, covering the same route along Dempster and other streets as the 250, but with only 17 stops, reducing travel time to as little as 47 minutes, which is very competitive with a car.

A map showing the proposed Pulse route to O’Hare and its stops.

Certain trips could take up to 65 minutes, which is still faster than the current service.

Pulse buses will have free wi-fi, heated shelters, raised station platforms for easier access, and an on-board computer that can make green lights stay green longer for buses, and red lights turn green faster, to help the buses stay on time. One thing that would not change is the fare. Same as now.

The Pulse Dempster line would add frequency, as often as every 15 minutes in certain day parts.

The existing Route 250 bus would still run daily as well, covering all 83 potential stops, although less often than it does now.

The shelter and related roadway improvements are financed by a $10 million federal grant. Federal money also covers the first two years of operation.

The public hearings will let bus riders comment on the proposed service, and suggest potential changes.

For more information about signing up for or viewing the public hearings, as well as for additional information on the proposed Pulse schedules, stops, and map, go to

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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1 Comment

  1. Excellent solution to the O’hare-Evanston transit issue. I’ve ridden the slow bus there and sure hope it passes.

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