Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Senator Dick Durbin today announced the Union Station Transit Center (USTC), a state-of-the-art new CTA bus boarding facility, will begin service on Sunday, Sept 4. Opening just in time for Labor Day, the transit center is a major step in the redevelopment of Union Station and will provide weather protection for transit riders and an underground connection to the train station that serves 120,000 people each weekday.
“The opening of this transit center is another step in our plan to make Union Station a true transit hub for the city of Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said. “By making it easier to move from a bus to a train and improving nearby traffic flow, we are making the neighborhood more attractive for residents, visitors and businesses. By renovating and restoring Union Station, we are making Chicago even stronger with 21st-century infrastructure that can meet the demands of a 21st century economy.”
“The opening of this new transit center moves us one step closer to a 21st Century Union Station – one with increased capacity, less congestion inside and outside the station, and improved passenger experience,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said. “I commend Mayor Emanuel’s long-term vision for Union Station and will continue to provide federal support for improvements that will impact commuters and visitors for decades to come.”
The new off-street bus center, built by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) for the CTA, is located along Jackson Blvd. between Canal St. and Clinton St. just south of Union Station. The following six CTA bus routes will operate at the USTC:
#1 Bronzeville/Union (Will stop at Jackson Blvd.) # 28 Stony Island
#121 Union/Streeterville Express (Will stop at Jackson Blvd.) #124 Navy Pier
#151 Sheridan #156 LaSalle
“We are proud to open the new Union Station Transit Center and offer efficient new bus service to CTA customers in the downtown Loop area,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said. “By providing riders with an off-street boarding area and bus stop, we will help make travel faster, easier and more convenient.”
The USTC project benefits customers connecting between Metra, Amtrak and CTA systems with improved boarding locations. It also provides bus tracking information and Ventra payment machines. Additionally, the USTC offers weather protection for bus riders, as well as elevator access to an existing Amtrak underground pedway connection to Union Station.
By separating CTA buses from traffic on Canal St., the USTC will also significantly improve traffic flow around Union Station. The USTC opening coincides with the near completion of work on Canal St. as part of the Loop Link project that has reconfigured the traffic flow in front of Union Station and improved curbside access at the station. The USTC benefits motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians in the area by reducing traffic conflicts, and will provide buses with a dedicated traffic light to exit the terminal.
On Canal St. between Jackson Blvd. and Adams St., CDOT is finalizing traffic flow improvements that are being made as part of the Loop Link. Under the revised traffic flow, the east side of Canal between Jackson and Adams is now reserved for bus and wheelchair vehicle pick-up and drop-off only, while the west side is for all other through traffic including taxi and passenger car pick-up-and drop-off. In addition, a pedestrian refuge island and mid-block crossing were added on Canal to make it safer and easier for pedestrians to cross the street.
“CDOT is very excited to have built the USTC and to be wrapping up the work on Canal Street as part of the Loop Link,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “Both of these projects deliver real improvements in terms of safety and mobility for all modes of transportation, especially for pedestrians and transit riders.”
Connecting the region’s commuter trains with an off-street bus center and an overall improvement in traffic flow on Canal St. were two of the major goals established by the city-led Chicago Union Station Master Plan.
As part of the plan, earlier this summer engineering firm Arup began the next phase of planning, historic review and preliminary engineering for the restoration and renovation of Union Station. Working closely with Amtrak and its partners, Arup is advancing design work in a number of areas including expanded concourses and entrances, widening of platforms, ADA compliance, pedestrian passageways and issues related to ventilation.
Among other recently completed projects at Union Station are the new Legacy Club and Metropolitan Lounge, the addition of air conditioning to the Great Hall and the restoration of the iconic Grand Staircases in the station’s historic head house.
Amtrak is currently conducting an RFP process to identify a Master Developer to lead the full implementation of the Master Plan, including redeveloping the Amtrak-owned station and surrounding land parcels, as well as making improvements to both passenger and employee facilities.