Pace and local officials on Wednesday celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony the completion of the Plainfield Park-n-Ride that accommodates about 500 commuters a day now traveling between the city and downtown Chicago by bus.
The bus station was completed in June. The large, wooden canopies, which provide sheltered bays for commuters to wait for the bus, were completed Monday.
The Park-n-Ride includes 600 parking spaces, enough to accommodate future growth, and the station offers restrooms, water and a bus-ticket machine.
“This being a true commuter option, we have to have amenities like this so people can get out of the elements,” Pace Chairman Rick Kwasneski said.
The $5.8 million facility is designed for the growing number of commuters using the bus as their option to travel Interstate 55 between the suburbs and the Loop.
The buses that leave Plainfield 18 times a day, Monday through Friday, are part of the I-55 Pace routes that carry about 4,000 commuters daily.
That’s more commuters than use the Metra Heritage Corridor train line out of Joliet, Kwasneski said.
Pace ridership on the I-55 routes has grown 600% since buses first began driving on the highway shoulder in 2011 to speed up the ride. Before then, only a few commuters a day took the bus, which would get stuck in I-55 traffic with everyone else.
Mayor Mike Collins remembered “we had more staff than riders” when Pace parking was first provided at Plainfield Village Hall in 2009.
Plainfield resident Lindalee Adams was waiting for a bus to take her to Chicago to see a performance of “Cats.”
“It’s convenient, and it’s cheap,” Adams said of the bus.
She pays $4.50 for a round trip with her senior discount, reads a newspaper on the way and has made new friends among fellow bus travelers.
The standard rate is $9 for a round trip.
Adams was taking the last Route 855 bus, which leaves Plainfield at 10:03 a.m. and arrives in the East Loop at 11:37 a.m. The bus makes 10 trips back to Plainfield, leaving Chicago between 11:57 a.m. and 7:10 p.m.
A second route, the 755, has a similar schedule, but goes from Plainfield to the West Loop.
Route 755 also stops in Bolingbrook.
“We have two Park-n-Rides in Bolingbrook,” Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar said at the ceremony. “They both are full to capacity.”
Claar, who is Will County’s representative on the Pace board, said the Plainfield Park-n-Ride is “setting the bar high” for future Pace facilities.
Pace moved parking to the new Park-n-Ride located off South Van Dyke Road in August 2018. Bus riders formerly parked at village hall and a lot at Larry’s Diner.
Will County executive Larry Walsh said the Plainfield facility will likely become the envy of other towns.
“You’re probably going to start something,” he said to Pace officials, “and have to go remodel the rest of them.”