Transit Signal Priority: an “Invisible” Benefit for Riders

Today the Chicago Tribune highlighted Pace’s new “Pulse” service, an express route with fewer stops and other features to provide faster service, which is set to debut on Milwaukee Avenue next year. The Tribune also mentioned a feature on which the RTA is proud to partner with Pace to make this project possible: Transit Signal Priority or TSP.

What is TSP? Well, there are times I’ve been on a bus and it feels like it’s catching every red light. I wish I had some sort of magic wand to turn the light green.

Transit Signal Priority is the magic wand that every bus is equipped with to communicate with traffic signal controllers to hold green lights longer or shorten red lights. TSP allows buses to proceed through the light, which improves schedule reliability with minimal impacts on overall traffic.

This technology has been in the works for a long time. In 2012, the RTA secured a $36 million federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant and is providing $4 million in local match to fund program management, engineering and implementation of the program. TSP work is spearheaded by Pace, the CTA, Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) in partnership with the RTA.

And we’re working hard to implement TSP throughout our region. The CTA currently utilizes TSP for their J14 Jeffrey Jump, #9/X9 Ashland Express and next year for their #X49 Western Express bus routes, which are essential during the morning and afternoon rush periods. In addition to Milwaukee Avenue, Pace is currently planning their Pulse service for Dempster Street, Cermak Road, Halsted Street, 95th Street and Roosevelt Road.

This technology may be invisible to the rider, but it creates a better experience through faster and more efficient bus operations. We are proud to partner with Pace, CTA, CDOT, IDOT and other transportation stakeholders to secure vital funding for this great technology. We are confident that our investment will benefit riders across the region.

Next time your bus zips through consecutive green lights, just remember it wasn’t by luck. We had it planned all along.

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