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Walk farther to catch faster bus?

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Evanston residents along a stretch of Dodge Avenue will be asked next month whether they’d rather walk a little farther to catch a bus that could provide a bit faster service.

City and CTA officials have developed a plan to test eliminating “flag stops” on Dodge Avenue in the half mile between Main and Oakton streets.

Flag stops are a concept unique to Evanston in the CTA system in which riders can hail a bus at any street corner rather than only at locations with posted bus stop signs.

That means there are seven possible northbound stops and five southbound stops on Dodge between the two major streets — given that some of the cross streets end at Dodge.

Under the plan presented by Jessica Hyink, the city’s transportation and mobility coordinator, to the city’s Transportation and Parking Committee Wednesday night, the number of intermediate stops would be reduced to three in each direction — at Keeney, Monroe and Washington northbound, and at Washington, Cleveland and Keeney southbound.

That would give the route a stop roughly every eighth of a mile — which is still more frequent than elsewhere in the CTA system, which typically has stops only every quarter mile, Hyink says.


Changes proposed for the northbound stop at Monroe Street.

As part of the change, concrete pads in the parkway would be added at each bus stop and restrict parking so buses could pull fully out of the travel lane to pickup and dropoff passengers. All the stops would also have bus stop signs.

Except for the northbound stop at Keeney, all the planned intermediate stops would be on the near side of the intersection

The current system, Hyink says, is frustrating for motorists because buses often block traffic while picking up passengers, and also makes it harder for passengers, especially those with mobility issues, to get on and off the bus.

It also tends to slow down the buses with extra stops, putting them behind schedule. That, she said can lead to ridership drops when passengers no longer can count on the system to get them to their destination on time.

A public meeting on the proposal is planned for July 17, most likely at the Levy Center.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, Hyink says, has already suggested cutting the number of stops further — by eliminating the ones at Keeney Street.

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