Chicago

Chicago features an unusually intense downtown, the legacy of over a century as the hub of Midwestern agriculture and industry. Sadly, it's also one of the US's most segregated cities, putting social and racial equity at the center of every transit debate.

Chicago Transit Authority hired JWA in 2019 to complete a detailed review of CTA bus services, typically the first step in a redesign study. We analyzed the network in numerous ways, highlighting how various conflicting goals have led to the current network, and identifying local design issues throughout the network where a future restructuring study might be able to provide better service without much more cost.

The study had a particular focus on racial and social equity issues in this historically segregated city. Patterns of discrimination in housing and development have left a city that is highly sorted by race, where predominantly African-American areas in particular are measurably further from opportunities.  We quantified and mapped this issue in numerous ways, seeking to define what an equitable provision of transit would look like given that transit, by itself, cannot overcome patterns of inequality that lie in the pattern of development.