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CHICAGO – CTA customers took their first rides today on the new Loop Link, a modernized bus transit network that runs on Madison, Washington, Clinton and Canal between Michigan Avenue and the West Loop.

“I see it being very beneficial for the traffic in the city,” said CTA rider Nancy Salman.

The $32 million project is intended to cut travel times across the central business district in half for the six bus routes included: J14, 20, 56, 60, 124 and the 157.

“It looks pretty cool to have the dedicated bike lane and the bus lane,” said CTA customer Dan Amati. “It looks like it could work. The only problem I see with it is that it’s such a limited scope, it’s not going to help circulate you throughout the Loop. But for Washington Street and the street over it looks like a good idea.”

Improvements include red CTA bus lanes to separate bus traffic from bikes and cars. There is new enhanced signage to mark the lanes, raised station platforms for easier boarding, early signals for buses at key intersections, and large canopies to shield riders from the elements and to cover more seating at stops.

“It sounds like a good plan, and it’s the biggest bus stop I have ever seen,” said CTA customer Matt Tuteur.

Service was smooth as the Loop Link began operations, and a truer test of the efficiency it can provide will come during Monday morning’s rush hour.

“Maybe it will keep the people out of the lanes there, because a lot of times when you get here and park, the bus is moving and cars are darting in and out,” said CTA rider Bobby Allen. “This looks like it might be working O.K.”

More information is available here.