Pace suburban bus agency is poised to finally pull the plug on 69 routes that have been indefinitely suspended since May 2020, including several routes that served the western suburbs.
This is part of Pace’s proposed 2023 budget, which was previewed during the Sept. 21 meeting of the Pace Board of Directors and officially released on Oct. 19. The budget also calls for making pandemic-era service reductions that haven’t already been reversed permanent, and leaves the fate of venue express buses, such as the Route 779 express bus that used to run between Hillside and Wrigley Field during the Cubs games and all three Brookfield Zoo summer express buses, in limbo.
The budget also calls for eliminating the $0.30 transfer fee, allowing riders to use the currently CTA-only 1-Day and 3-Day passes on Pace buses, and lowering the price of CTA/Pace 7-Day pass from $25 to $20.
Pace Board of Directors is expected to adopt the budget on Nov. 6. In the meantime, the transit agency is holding a series of public hearings to collect resident input. The Chicago public hearing will be held virtually on Oct. 25 at 5 p.m., and the in-person Cook County public hearing will be held at on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. at Forest Park’s Mohr Community Center, 7640 Jackson Blvd.
In 2020, Pace suspended 75 routes and reduced service on 25 more in order to free up buses for busier routes and allow more social distancing. The transit agency has since returned some of the routes to service and reversed some of the schedule cuts, but the rest remained in limbo and until the Sept. 21 board meeting, Pace declined to comment on their future.
The suspended routes include routes 320, 327 and 757. Route 320 provided direct service between the Forest Park Blue Line CTA terminal and Maywood District circuit courthouse, 1500 Maybrook Dr., in Maywood. During rush hour, the route continued east on Madison Street between Des Plaines Avenue and Austin Boulevard, filling in the service gap on the stretch of Madison Street that goes through Oak Park.
Riders who wish to get to the circuit court can currently take Pace bus routes 303, 310 and 317 as far as 1st Avenue, but they must walk the rest of the way. While Route 318 follows the same path as Route 320 did during rush hour as far east as Harlem Avenue, there is no other service on the Oak Park portion.
Route 327 provided the rush hour service between Forest Park terminal and the industrial businesses along Industrial Drive. Pace bus routes 301, 305 and 308 can get riders as far as Roosevelt Road, but they’d need to walk the rest of the way.
Route 757 is among the majority of suburb-to-suburb commuter express services that were suspended during the pandemic. This particular route picked up passengers in the morning at the Green Line Harlem/Lake terminal and the Forest Park terminal, took I-290 expressway to reach Bensenville, and dropped off passengers at office towers, shopping centers and other destinations in northwest suburban Elk Grove Village, Arlington Heights and Schaumburg. Route 757 took five trips each way, with the trip taking between 60 to 90 minutes depending on traffic conditions.
Any rider wishing to make the same trip today needs to make at least three transfers between Pace buses, CTA buses and el trains.