An agreement between Northwestern University and the Chicago Transit Authority announced today will allow anyone with Northwestern University identification to ride the CTA’s No. 201 bus to campus and other Evanston destinations for free.
Beginning this fall, the free CTA service for Northwestern riders will be offered from September through June. It will take the place of the university’s Ryan Field Shuttle and offer more buses, longer service hours and extended routing. The move is expected to reduce traffic congestion by consolidating redundant transit options.
The No. 201 bus route extends from the CTA Howard bus and rail terminal to the Northwestern campus, with stops in the Evanston business district, at Ryan Field and west on Central Street and Old Orchard Road to the Westfield Old Orchard shopping center in Skokie.
“We are so pleased to announce this partnership with the CTA,” said Brian Peters, assistant vice president for university services. “We have been wanting to provide such a transportation service for many years. It’s definitely a win-win for the Northwestern community and the city of Evanston.”
Under the new five-year agreement, the University has agreed to reimburse the CTA for the cost of $2 fares for Northwestern riders who must show a valid University photo identification card to ride the No. 201 bus for free during the school year. Riders will be charged the standard CTA bus fare for service in July and August. Students still will be able to use the Ventra U-Pass for discounted travel during the summer.
Service on the No. 201 route is provided weekdays from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“This first-of-its-kind agreement with Northwestern exemplifies the value of public-private partnerships,” CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. said. “This benefits not only the university, but also the surrounding communities by making it easier to connect to local communities and neighborhoods and reducing local traffic congestion and harmful emissions as a result of fewer buses traveling many of the same roadways.”
Based on Northwestern rider data, the program is expected to add about 600 weekday rides on the 201 bus.