Ashland & Western Bus Improvements

Ashland & Western Bus Improvements


In December 2015, we launched a three-phased project to improve both travel speeds and service reliability along two of the busiest bus routes in the city – the #9 Ashland and #49 Western.

Each day, these two critical north/south routes corridors provide more than 55,600 CTA rides. However, due to traffic congestion and close stop spacing, both were affected by slow bus speeds, leading to consistent bus bunching and big gaps in service.

Learn more:

Ashland & Western Improvements: Overview Presentation
Ashland & Western Bus Improvements Brochure (English, en español)
Ashland & Western Bus Improvements Press Release (December 2015)

Route information:


Implemented Service Improvements

We know that bus riders expect fast and reliable service. To meet those expectations, we took the following steps to immediately improve #9 and #49 service:

We reintroduced the #X9 Ashland Express and #X49 Western Express bus routes, which run during the morning and afternoon rush periods. Express buses make stops roughly every half-mile and at all bus and rail transfer points. This has reduced travel times for passengers on these heavily traveled corridors.

The estimated time savings for each express route was 17 minutes. Western express service’s performance was negatively impacted due to the Western-Belmont Overpass construction. We expect Western express service to further improve as impacts from construction diminish. Ashland express service outperformed expectations by about 8 minutes.

  • Typical local service end-to-end times savings: 
    • Western: 15 minutes
    • Ashland: 25 minutes

We optimized bus stop spacing on the local routes by removing some of the least-used stops. This allows buses to travel faster by reducing the time buses spend frequently merging in and out of traffic while still providing convenient access along both corridors. CTA worked closely with the community on these stop changes. This feedback ensured that bus stop locations on these routes provided the most convenient and least disruptive service possible. About 85% of all trips on Ashland and Western were unaffected by bus stop relocations, and all trips have benefited from faster service.

Expected time-savings was 7.5 minutes for each corridor. Western local service nearly reached the target but was adversely impacted due to construction. Ashland local service performed as expected.

  • Typical local service end-to-end times savings:
    • Western: 5.5 minutes
    • Ashland: 7.5 minutes


Ongoing improvements

Transit Signal Priority (TSP) upgrades make it possible for buses running behind schedule to communicate with traffic signals along each corridor to hold green lights longer or to shorten red lights. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is spearheading the installation of roadside TSP equipment.

  • Estimated time savings: up to 5 additional minutes along each corridor
  • Timeframe for implementation:
    • Spring 2016: Ashland from Cermak to 95th Street
      • Performance analysis and calibration are ongoing
    • Spring through Fall 2017: Western from Howard to 79th Street
    • Future Corridor: Ashland from Cermak to Irving Park Road


Ashland & Western bus stops

Follow these links to see a current stop map for each route from CTA Bus Tracker. We continue to receive and review feedback on bus stop locations as we monitor route performance.



We continue to receive feedback from riders, residents, business owners and others affected by Ashland & Western improvements. Please send your comments to:


1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282)

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