Milwaukee Line - FAQs

What is Pulse?

Pulse is Pace’s new rapid transit service that will provide frequent, fast and reliable transit. Pulse service combines technologies such as Transit Signal Priority (TSP) and limited stop service with roadway improvements such as raised platforms to reduce travel times and provide greater rider amenities. Learn more about Pulse

What is the Pulse Milwaukee Line Project?

The Pulse Milwaukee Line was identified as Pace’s first corridor for implementation of a rapid transit service. This route was selected based on strength of existing transit service, benefits to local and regional transit connectivity, existing and projected ridership and local community support. The Milwaukee Line is 7.6 miles in length and will serve the Village of Niles and City of Chicago. The service will operate, in mixed traffic, along Milwaukee Avenue between the Golf Mill Shopping Center and the Jefferson Park Transit Center.

What is the process and schedule for the Pulse Milwaukee Line Project?

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Planning Study
The Pulse Milwaukee Line study process began with a Planning Study to develop initial design concepts, determine station locations, and collect data.

Environmental Review Process
The Pulse Milwaukee Line is following the federally mandated environmental review known as the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process. NEPA requires the identification and evaluation of potential impacts that a federally funded project has on the natural and built environment. The environmental review process is conducted in conjunction with the preliminary service planning and also with station area location, design, and evaluation work. The environmental documentation was submitted to and approved by the Federal Transit Administration.

Design Engineering
Using the study findings and public input, Pace has selected the final station locations and is currently in the design phase. 

Construction and Operation
Construction of the Milwaukee Line is anticipated to take place in 2017 and Pulse service will begin in 2017.

Public Involvement
Stakeholder and public outreach is a part of each phase throughout the study process.

What types of community and public outreach initiatives will be undertaken?

Stakeholder involvement is critical to the success of the project and understanding its potential impacts. There are several public involvement opportunities available to you and you are encouraged to participate and express your opinion.

A Stakeholder Involvement Plan has been developed and serves as a blueprint to define the outreach tools and methods, identify the roles and responsibilities of study participants, and establish the timing of public outreach activities planned throughout the study.

Corridor Advisory Group
A Corridor Advisory Group (CAG) has been created to guide the planning process and consists of elected and public officials, local and regional agencies, businesses, stakeholder groups, and city and county technical staff.

Public Meetings
The first public meeting was held April 22, 2015 to introduce the project features and development schedule. The second public meeting, held on August 26, 2015, presented the environmental review documentation as well as the final selected station locations for the Milwaukee Line.

Pulse Website
The Pulse website was developed to provide an overview of the Pulse program as well as information and updates related to the Milwaukee Line project. The website also provides a means for the public to comment, ask questions, contact Pace, and sign up for the mailing list.

When will construction of the Pulse Milwaukee Line occur?

Construction is anticipated to begin in 2017.

When will the Pulse Milwaukee Line service begin? 

The Pulse Milwaukee Line will begin operating in 2017.

How is the Pulse Milwaukee Line project funded?

The Pulse Milwaukee Line is funded by a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant as well as Pace operating funds. Total capital construction costs are estimated at approximately $9.5 million and new vehicle costs are estimated at $4.5 million. Congressional funding support from Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky has been received for Milwaukee Avenue’s Transit Signal Priority (TSP).

Where are the Pulse Milwaukee Line terminals?

The northern terminus of the Pulse Milwaukee Line is the Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles, near the existing bus stop on the south end of the mall. The southern terminus is the Jefferson Park Transit Center. At Jefferson Park, connections are available to the Metra Union Pacific Northwest Line, CTA Blue Line, and numerous local CTA and Pace bus routes. Connections are available at multiple points elsewhere along the route to several Pace and CTA bus routes.

Where will the Pulse stations be located?

Stations will be located roughly every half mile between Golf Mill Shopping Center and the Jefferson Park Transit Center. Intermediate stations are at Dempster Street, Main Street, Oakton Street / Oak Mill Mall, Harlem Avenue / Howard Street, Touhy Avenue, Devon Avenue, Austin Avenue / Ardmore Avenue, and Central Avenue.

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Milwaukee Line Map - View larger image

How were station locations determined?

Station locations were determined based on an analysis of Pace ridership patterns, site constraints, and safety conditions, and were determined in coordination with the Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Transit Authority, Village of Niles, Illinois Department of Transportation, and Federal Transit Administration. Other considerations important to determining station locations included sidewalk connections, proximity to other stations and to other bus routes, transit signal priority benefits, impacts on adjacent property owners, and public input.

What types of new facilities are being developed for the Pulse Milwaukee Line? What will they look like?

New stations are being developed for the Pulse Milwaukee Line. Stations will consist of a raised boarding platform 12” higher than the adjacent street pavement to facilitate easier boarding of the vehicles. Station amenities include a partially-enclosed 16 foot by 5 foot heated shelter with seating; bicycle racks; landscaping; and a vertical marker that will display the Pulse brand, real-time next bus arrival information, and local and regional maps. A preliminary station concept is shown below:

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Will bicycle improvements be provided?

Like all Pace fixed route buses, Pulse buses will be equipped with bike racks. Additionally, most Pulse stations will be equipped with a bicycle rack for parking and locking your bike.

How will the Pulse Milwaukee Line impact the CTA’s plans to improve the Jefferson Park Transit Center?

The Chicago Transit Authority is making improvements to the Jefferson Park Transit Center as part of its Your New Blue capital program. At Jefferson Park, Pulse Milwaukee Line passengers will benefit from the replacement of the entry canopy leading to the station tunnel, replacement of lighting, installation of public art and repaving on the bus turnaround. Additional station improvements will be made within the station and Blue Line platform. Pace is coordinating with CTA and the Your New Blue project to identify improvements to support the Pulse service.

How often will service operate?

Although details are subject to change, the Pulse Milwaukee Line is expected to operate on weekdays between the hours of 5 a.m. and midnight every 10 minutes during rush hours, every 15 minutes during non-peak hours until 10:00 p.m. and every 30 minutes from 10:00 p.m. to midnight. On Saturdays, Pulse service will begin at 5:30 a.m. and on Sundays, Pulse will begin at 6 a.m. Service on both Saturday and Sunday will run until midnight. On weekends and holidays, Pulse will run every 15 minutes until 10 p.m. when it will transition to every 30 minutes.

What kind of buses will be used to provide Pulse service?

The initial fleet of Pulse vehicles will be ElDorado Axess 40-foot low floor buses. These vehicles have the capacity to seat up to 43 passengers, ADA-compliant front and rear passenger doors with a ramp, a 14 inch step height at both doors, and a bicycle rack mounted on the front. These vehicles will be similar to those currently being purchased as part of Pace’s fleet replacement program. However, the Pulse vehicles will be modified in several important and highly visible ways including having a new Pulse-branded exterior, providing in-vehicle Wi-Fi service and USB charging outlets for passenger convenience, as well as digital route maps with next stop displays.

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How will local Pace and CTA fixed route services operate in relation to the Pulse service?

Local Pace and CTA routes will continue to operate along the corridor with the Pulse Milwaukee Line and will make stops at the Pulse stations as well as other existing local bus stops. Pace Route 270 will continue to provide service along the corridor.

At the Jefferson Park Transit Center, the Pulse Milwaukee Line will use the bus terminal that is currently shared by existing CTA and Pace bus routes. Coordination with the CTA is ongoing to determine which bay will be assigned to the Pulse Milwaukee Line.

What will happen to Pace’s Route 270 when the Pulse Milwaukee Line begins service?

Pulse will not replace Route 270. The Milwaukee Line will complement existing services by providing amenities at the most popular boarding locations between the Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles and the Jefferson Park Transit Center in Chicago. The selected Pulse station locations are strategically located to serve current Pace Bus riders along the corridor. The Milwaukee Line service will end at the Golf Mill Shopping Center, but other Pace routes will serve the area north of Golf Mill. Pace anticipates that many current Route 270 riders will use the Milwaukee Line, and future changes to Route 270 frequencies may be considered. Any proposed changes to Route 270 will be subject to Pace’s public hearing procedures.

Will the Pulse Milwaukee Line provide service north of Golf Mill Shopping Center?

The Pulse Milwaukee Line will not provide service north of Golf Mill Shopping Center.  However, other Pace routes will continue to serve the area north of Golf Mill.

It seems like there are fewer stops planned for the Pulse Milwaukee Line than local Route 270. Will I have to walk farther to my destination?

Based on an analysis of existing Route 270 ridership, Pace estimates 90% of its current riders board Route 270 at stops that are within 1/4 of a mile (two typical city blocks) of a proposed Pulse station. In addition, 82% of its riders board at stops that are within 1/8 of a mile of a proposed Pulse station. This means that the vast majority of riders will have a Pulse stop very close to their current stop and will not have to walk much farther than they do now. Further, Route 270 service will continue to make all local stops and continue to serve riders at their current boarding locations.

Will the new Pulse Milwaukee Line travel faster than the existing Route 270 service?

Estimated running times on the Pulse Milwaukee Line are anticipated to be faster than existing service due to the reduced number of stations/stops, benefits from innovative technology such as Transit Signal Priority (TSP), and other elements including increased boarding efficiencies resulting from the raised platform.

What is Transit Signal Priority (TSP)?

To improve on-time performance and schedule reliability, Pace is implementing a Transit Signal Priority (or TSP) system along all of its planned Pulse lines. TSP enables Pace’s computerized intelligent bus systems to communicate with the traffic signal system without any action taken by the bus driver. If a bus is running behind schedule, the system allows the bus to send a request to the traffic signal network to either shorten a red light or extend a green light.

TSP does not interfere with signal preemption systems used by emergency response vehicles. Additionally, traffic signal controls are programmed to deny the vehicle’s request for a timing adjustment if traffic conditions would be negatively impacted. In other parts of the Pace service area, TSP resulted in travel time improvements of up to 20%.

When will the Milwaukee Avenue TSP be implemented?

TSP is anticipated to be operational along Milwaukee Avenue before the planned launch of the Pulse Milwaukee Line in 2017.

Are there plans for future Pulse lines that will connect to the Milwaukee Line?

There are indeed plans for future Pulse lines throughout the Chicago region. The next Pulse service to be implemented will be the Dempster Line, which will provide service from Evanston to O’Hare International Airport via Des Plaines. In addition to the Dempster Line, several additional planned Pulse lines will also intersect and connect with the Milwaukee Line. Region-wide, there are 24 Pulse lines planned to serve the region. Timetables for the implementation of additional lines are under development. Learn more about Pace’s long-term vision for the Pulse network.

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