Shuttle Bug (P3), Lake and Cook Counties, Illinois, 1996

  • Date Enacted: Jan 1, 1996
  • Dates given are approximate.


The Shuttle Bug service in the Chicago metropolitan area a public-private partnership (P3) that we call a “consortium-sponsored shuttle,” (see forthcoming TCRP report, Task 24, by SUMC). The PACE transit agency operates the shuttle lines with buses that operate as public transit (i.e. with fare boxes) for users.

tma 11c

Credit: TMA of Lake-Cook

The sponsored riders enjoy a route that travels the “last mile” to their work destination, and their transit cards are not charged. The bus service arose in response to the loss or re-routing of traditional bus lines that would perform last mile duties on the Chicago area’s hub and spoke transit system.

The program was initiated by the TMA of Lake-Cook, which was formed in 1989 in response to SOV traffic generated by a proliferation of suburban office parks around the expressways and Lake-Cook Road in Chicago’s northwestern suburbs. The Shuttle Bug program was initiated in 1996, and is a public-private partnership between the TMA, Metra commuter rail, PACE suburban bus transit, and the corporate partners. As mentioned, PACE operates the buses, and acquires the vehicle stock through the regional transportation’s capital program. On the operations side, the companies pay half the cost, and Metra and PACE split the other half (25% overall, each).[1]

The TMA reports that they currently offer 13 routes that serve 30 companies with 1000 daily rider trips and 250,000 annual trips. This is down from a peak of 1700 daily trips in 2008, which the TMA attributes to work from home flexibility, lower gas prices, and possible competition from TNCs, to which the Metropolitan Planning Council would add private buses wholly run by employers. Regardless, the suburbs are the home to a disproportionate share of the region’s employment centers, and the program remains popular enough that PACE is launching another demonstration program in the western suburbs.[2]

Updated July 2017

[1] The Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 2016. “Increasing Mobility Through Enhanced Transit Connectivity,” August 15. Page 30. and Tim Grzesiakowski and Cecilia Gamba. 2013. “A Hidden Phenomenon: The Private Bus Network.” Metropolitan Planning Council. May 1.  See also, “About the TMA Shuttle Bug Program,” TMA of Lake-Cook,

[2] Urban Transportation Center. Page 31, Grzesiakowski and Gamba. 2013. “A Hidden Phenomenon” and “The Private Bus Network: Pros and Cons.”

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