Dempster 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 Dempster Line Project?

Pace’s second Pulse line, the Pulse Dempster Line, is 15 miles in length, and will operate along Dempster Street between Evanston and O’Hare International Airport. It will operate in mixed traffic and connect to other Pace and CTA bus routes, as well as CTA and Metra rail lines, offering a variety of local and regional travel options.  

Where can I travel on the Pulse Dempster Line?

The Pulse Dempster Line will connect the communities of Evanston, Skokie, Morton Grove, Niles, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Rosemont to one another. Pulse will also provide connections to major destinations including O’Hare International Airport, Evanston, Lutheran General Hospital, Maine East High School and Notre Dame High School. 

There are numerous transit connections to Pace and CTA bus routes, CTA Purple and Yellow lines, CTA Blue Line via O'Hare International Airport, and Metra’s UP-North, UP-Northwest and North Central Service lines. The Pulse Dempster Line will also connect with the Pulse Milwaukee Line at the Milwaukee/Dempster Pulse station to provide service to the Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles and the Jefferson Park Transit Center in Chicago.

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Preliminary Pulse Dempster Line Map - View larger image

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

The Pulse Dempster Line project team has completed the Planning Study. With input from agencies and local municipalities, a Dempster Line Project Definition Report was developed and outlines preliminary service and operating plans and project cost estimates.

We will follow a federally mandated environmental review known as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to identify and evaluate potential impacts to the natural and built environment.  Using the study findings and public input, Pace will select the final station locations and begin detailed design. 

Though the schedule for the Dempster Line is pending grant funding and is subject to change, construction is currently anticipated to begin in 2021. Stakeholder and public outreach is ongoing throughout the study process. Learn more about the process and schedule.

How can I get involved in the Pulse Dempster Line Project?

Stakeholder involvement is critical to the success of the project and we look forward to your participation. Sign up for our mailing list to receive project updates and notifications about public meetings. You can also share your thoughts by submitting a comment or question. Public meetings are listed here.

When will construction of the Pulse Dempster Line occur?

Construction is anticipated to take begin in 2021.

When will the Pulse Dempster Line service begin?

An announcement will be made about the Dempster Line's projected launch date only after construction begins.  

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

The initial fleet of Pulse vehicles will be 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 is the Pulse Dempster Line project funded?

Pace received a CMAQ grant to construct the Pulse Dempster Line stations and buy new buses. Pace will use its regular operating funds for the day-to-day operations of the new service. 

Where are the Pulse Dempster Line terminals?

The eastern terminal is located at the Davis CTA/Metra station in Evanston. The western terminal is the O’Hare station. At the Davis CTA/Metra station, connections are available to the CTA Purple Line, the Metra Union Pacific North Line, and numerous local CTA and Pace bus routes. At the O'Hare station, passengers will be able to connect to the free O’Hare Airport Transit System (ATS) to the airport terminals or to the Metra O’Hare Transfer station on the North Central Service line.   

Where will the Pulse Dempster Line stations be located?

Stations will be located roughly every half mile between Evanston’s Davis CTA/Metra station and the O’Hare station. At this time, station locations are preliminary and further study is needed to determine actual station locations.

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Preliminary Pulse Dempster Line Map - View larger image

How will station locations be determined for the Pulse Dempster Line?

Preliminary station locations were determined based on an analysis of Pace ridership patterns, site constraints, and safety conditions. As part of the planning phase, Pace is further evaluating this data and other considerations important to determining station locations including sidewalk connections, proximity to other stations and to other bus routes, transit signal priority benefits, and impacts on adjacent property owners. We are working with local communities as well as the Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Transit Authority, Illinois Department of Transportation, and Federal Transit Administration, to determine station locations. 

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

New, modern stations are being developed for the Pulse Dempster Line. Just like the stations that are in development for the 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. 

It seems like there are fewer stops planned for the Pulse Dempster Line than local Route 250. Will I have to walk farther to my destination?

Pulse stations will be located at or very near some of the existing Route 250 stops with the highest ridership activity. Although Pulse stations will be farther apart than existing bus stops, most will be no more than a quarter of a mile from current Route 250 stops. 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. 

What will happen to Pace Route 250 when the Pulse Dempster Line begins service?

The Pulse Dempster Line will complement existing Route 250 service by providing faster, more frequent service to the most popular destinations along the corridor. While changes to Route 250 service frequency may be considered, any significant changes will be subject to a public hearing.

How frequently will the Pulse Dempster Line operate?

Pulse will offer more frequent service than the existing Route 250. The Dempster Line is anticipated to operate every 10 to 15 minutes. The operating plan will be further refined after public input is received. 

Will I be able to transfer to other transit services from the Pulse Dempster Line? 

Yes. The Dempster Line will connect to a variety of Pace and CTA bus routes including the Pulse Milwaukee Line, the CTA Yellow and Purple lines, as well as to Metra’s Union Pacific North, Northwest and North Central Service rail lines. 

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%.

Will the new Pulse Dempster Line reduce travel times versus existing Route 250 service?

Estimated running times on the Pulse Dempster Line are anticipated to be faster than Route 250 due to the reduced number of stations/stops, benefits from innovative technology such as Transit Signal Priority (TSP), and design elements to improve boarding speed.

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

Yes. There are plans for future Pulse lines throughout the Chicago region. The Dempster Line will connect to the Pulse Milwaukee Line at Milwaukee/Dempster Pulse station and there are plans for future connections to other Pulse lines. 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.

How much will the fare be for the Pulse Dempster Line?

It is anticipated that Pace's regular fare structure will apply, subject to approval by the Pace Board of Directors. You will be able to pay by Ventra® card  or cash. Visit for fare policies and for Ventra details. Reduced and free fares are available to eligible customers.

Will the Pulse Dempster Line be accessible to people with disabilities? 

Yes. Pulse will be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Stations will have raised platforms for easier boarding and, like all Pace buses, Pulse buses will have ramps and be fully accessible to passengers with disabilities.