PACE

SUBURBAN TRANSIT HISTORY

National City Lines Sells Satellite City Operations
In three out of the four "satellite" cities outside Chicago, National City Lines had operated the bus systems since 1936, its first year of formation.

1966 - Aurora City Lines, Elgin City Lines, and Aurora-Elgin Bus Line sold by National City Lines to Vernon Westover, a regional manager of National City Lines.

1968 - Elgin City Lines sold to city Department of Transportation, Aurora City Lines sold to Tom-A-Hawk Transit (subsidized by city), and Aurora-Elgin Bus Line sold to Joliet-Aurora Transit Lines.

1970 - Joliet City Lines ceases operations after a strike, and the city owned Joliet Mass Transit District assumes operations of local buses within Joliet.

1971 - City owned Aurora Transit System acquires local bus system there.

1973 - Elgin Department of Transportation takes over Aurora-Elgin route, subdidized by communities along the route.

Private Suburban Bus Companies Begin Failing
One by one, the suburban bus companies immediately outside Chicago were closing down, no longer able to afford continued operations. Some makeshift funding arrangements were needed, to enable some replacement bus service.

1973 - Evanston Bus Co. ceases operations after a lengthy strike. CTA started operating routes in Evanston, subsidized by the city, as at the time there was no suburban agency fit to assume operations. Nortran (formerly United Motor Coach Co.) eventually assumed certain other routes in the area, now part of Pace North Shore and Northwest Divisions.

1973 - West Suburban Transit Lines ceases operations after a strike. Interurban bus routes taken over by Valley Transit Corp., later by S.W.I.F.T. (South West Interurban Fast Transit, Inc.) and later by Joliet Mass Transit District. Hillside routes discontinued, with West Towns Bus Co. subsequently introducing some service expansions into Hillside.

1974 - Glenview Bus Co. ceases operations, village of Wilmette assumes operation of some routes, known as Wilbus.

1975 - United Motor Coach becomes publicly owned Nortran (North Suburban Mass Transit District).

RTA Created, Suburban Bus Companies Continue
Subsidies and "purchase of service contracts" enabled private suburban bus companies to continue operating into the 1980's, with expanded service.

1974 - Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) approved by voters.

1976 - RTA adopts universal fares and transferring among CTA and suburban bus routes.

Funding Crisis, RTA Reformed, Pace Created
A political deal had resulted in a loss of state subsidy to RTA, resulting in a major financial crisis. Subsidy would later be restored, but only if reforms are implemented.

1981 - In May, RTA runs out of cash, resulting in the shutdown of several suburban bus systems. Joliet Mass Transit District suspended all operations beginning on May 23, followed by West Towns Bus Co. on May 29, Aurora Transit System on May 30, South Suburban Safeway Lines on June 1, and Suburban Transit System on June 6. On June 8, limited rush hour service for South Suburban Safeway Lines was restored. But service for the other four carriers was not restored until between August 3 and August 10.

1981 - In October, RTA receives federal grant to purchase four remaining private suburban bus companies. West Towns Bus Co. was ready to sell right away, and was acquired immediately. But condemnation suits were needed to acquire the three other companies. Waukegan-North Chicago Transit Co. was acquired in 1982, and Suburban Transit System and South Suburban Safeway Lines were acquired in 1983. RTA contracted with ATE to manage the four systems.

1984 - State subsidy to RTA restored, under condition that RTA replace its board and undergo corporate restructuring. This restructuring would result in the creation of a separate agency responsible for suburban buses, known as Pace.

Pace Becomes An Actual Operator Of Suburban Buses
When the RTA was created in 1974, it was not expected that the RTA or any subsidiary agencies would actually operate the transit services in the suburbs. But Pace now directly operates most of its buses, and Metra now directly operates most of its commuter trains.

1985 - Pace assumes direct operation from ATE of what becomes the Pace West Division, South Division, Southwest Division, and North Division.

1989 - Aurora Transit System becomes Pace Fox Valley Division.

1990 - Joliet Mass Transit District becomes Pace Heritage Division.

1991 - Nortran becomes Pace Northwest Division.

1991 - Elgin Department of Transportation becomes Pace River Division.

1995 - Pace opens North Shore Division, assuming the Wilbus routes, and later a few additional routes from the Northwest Division.

Into The New Century
During its first twenty years, Pace made only minimal changes to the original route structure which it had inherited from the suburban bus companies. But travel patterns do not always remain constant.

2002 - Pace launches "Vision 2020", where the entire Pace system would be systematically analyzed, one portion at a time. Public input would be sought, as portions of the Pace system would be significantly restructured to meet changing needs.

2003 - Effective August 25, several routes in Elgin are restructured.

2005 - Effective March 20, major route restructuring would be introduced in northern suburbs. And effective October 24, major route restructuring would be introduced in the Aurora area.

2006 - Effective November 20, new "reverse feeder" routes introduced, connecting with the expanded Metra North Central rail service.

2008 - Effective November 24, major route restructuring would be introduced in the Joliet area.

2009 - Effective June 7, major route restructuring would be introduced in south and southwest suburbs.

2015 - Effective October 26, service improvements would be introduced in the Fox Valley area around Aurora-Naperville and Geneva-St. Charles.

2016 - Effective June 13, service improvements would be introduced in DuPage County, mainly around Downers Grove, Lisle, Naperville, and Woodridge. And effective December 19, new and improved routes would be added along the I-90 Corridor between Rosemont, Schaumburg and Elgin.


RESTRUCTURING INITIATIVES

Link to a page at the official Pace Web site, covering current and past Pace restructuring initiatives.


Go to Chicago Transit & Railfan Web Site