By Igor Studenkov
For the Bugle
Bus riders got their first glimpse of the potential station locations of the new Pulse Dempster Arterial Rapid Transit bus service during the Sept. 12 public hearing held at Des Plaines Public Library.
The service would follow the same route as current Route 250, running primarily along Dempster Street between O’Hare Airport, Rosemont, Des Plaines, Park Ridge, unincorporated Maine Township, Niles, Morton Grove, Skokie and Evanston. To speed up the service, it would have only have stops at major locations, and those stops would be more elaborate, station-style structures, complete with raised platforms and bike racks. While in some cases, the exact locations have been settled, most stations had 2-3 possible alternatives, and Pace officials told the Bugle that public input will be taken into account when deciding which alternative would become the final location.
According to the renderings presented at the hearing, each station has the same basic design. It features a 12 inch raised platform with tramps leading up in both ends, a vertical station market with a station name and a screen showing real-time bus arrival times information, a bus shelter in the middle of the platform, and trash cans at bike racks positioned near the end of one of the platform’s ramps. There are several features that would be customizable based on the wishes of residents, government entities and other stakeholders at the station locations – bike racks, the paneling of the shelters and the station railing, the trash cans, and any landscaping around the station. The presentation does note that the basic design is not necessarily final, and it may be tweaked.
Looking at the stations that would be located within this newspaper’s coverage area, there is only one option for the stop at the intersection of Harlem Avenue and Dempster Street – both platforms would be located west of Harlem Avenue. The westbound platform would be directly in front of Kappy’s American Grill restaurant’s parking lot. At the Austin Avenue/Dempster Road intersection in Morton Grove, the platforms would be located roughly where the Route 250 stops are located now – the platforms would simply be longer.
The other stops are more complicated.
At Maine East High School, Pace is proposing putting a station at either Dee Road/Dempster Street intersection or Dempster Street/Porter Road intersection. The former would be located at the northeastern tip of the school’s campus, while the later would be located close to the school’s main entrance. In both cases, Pace is considering putting platforms at either east side of the intersection or the west side of the intersection.
It should be noted that Route 250 currently has special trips designed to pick up and drop off students. Those trips stop much closer to the school. According to Pace spokesperson Maggie Daly-Skogsbakken, regular Route 250 would still make those trips.
At the Cumberland Avenue/Dempster Street intersection, Pace is planning to put the westbound platform at the northwest side of the intersection, between the two driveways leading into the Citibank building. The eastbound platform would either be located on the southwest side, roughly where the current Route 250 bus stop is located, or across the street, at the northwest corner of Maryhill Cemetery.
At Milwaukee Avenue/Dempster Street intersection, the eastbound platform would be located on either the southwest or the southeast side of the intersection. Route 250 currently has stops on both sides. The former location would allow for more direct transfer to southbound Milwaukee Pulse service station. The westbound platform is more complicated. Pace would either put it on the northeast side, near the current Route 250 bus stop, or on the northwest side – either in front of Meble Furniture building or in front of its parking lot further west. The issue, Pace officials explained to the Bugle, is that the furniture store sits on the steps-like structure that makes it harder to add a platform. On the other hand, they worry that if they move the platform further west, riders who got off northbound Route 290 and Milwaukee Pulse buses would cut across the parking lot or across Milwaukee Avenue, creating a safety hazard.
At Waukegan Road/Dempster Street intersection, Pace is proposing only one location for the eastbound platform – on the southeast side of the intersection, at the Bank of America parking lot. But for the westbound platform, they would either put it on the northwest side of the intersection or near Prairie View Community Center, either to the west or to the east of the driveway. According to Pace staff, putting it there would make it easier for seniors and people with disabilities to reach the center.
Pace also revealed potential changes for the service to Dempster-Skokie Yellow Line ‘L’ station. Like all of the other CTA and Pace buses that stop there, Route 250 currently pulls into station’s Park-and-Ride, stopping in front of the station before turning back onto Dempster Street. Pace plans to either keep the current arrangement or put the platforms on Dempster Street – with westbound platform located across the street from the ‘L’ track and eastbound platform located either between the bike path and the track or east of the historic station house building.
Ryan Ruehte, a Pace Rapid Transit Corridor Planner, told the Bugle that it was simply the matter of speed – the turn into the park-and-ride takes extra 6-7 minutes.
Pace is also expecting to relocate its O’Hare stop. Route 250 currently stops in Parking Lot E, at the foot of the Airport Transit System station. The City of Chicago is currently building a larger parking facility on the other side of Manheim Road, with ATS extended into it. According to the rendering presented at the hearing, it will include space for Pace buses. Stopping at the facility would also put riders within walking distance of North Central Service Metra Line’s O’Hare Transfer station. The riders currently need to transfer to a separate shuttle bus in order to reach it.
Daly-Skogsbakken told the Bugle that Route 250 would still be running once Dempster Pulse service launches – albeit at a reduced frequency. The exact schedule hasn’t been decided as of this writing.