Pace Suburban Bus
ParentRegional Transportation Authority
Founded1983; 41 years ago (1983)
HeadquartersArlington Heights, Illinois
LocaleNortheastern Illinois
Service areaCook, Lake, Will, Kane, McHenry, and DuPage Counties
Service typeBus service, paratransit
Fleet792 buses
616 vans
440 owned vehicles in paratransit service
132 community vehicles[1]
Daily ridership70,700 (weekdays, Q3 2023)[2]
Annual ridership17,530,700 (2022)[3]
Fuel typeDiesel, Diesel-Electric, CNG
Executive DirectorMelinda Metzger

Pace is the suburban bus and regional paratransit division of the Regional Transportation Authority serving the Chicago metropolitan area. It was created in 1983 by the RTA Act, which established the formula that provides funding to the CTA, Metra, and Pace. The various agencies providing bus service in the Chicago suburbs were merged under the Suburban Bus Division, which rebranded as Pace in 1984. In 2022, Pace had 18.041 million riders.[4]

Pace is headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois and is governed by a 13-member Board of Directors, 12 of which are current and former suburban mayors. The remaining director is the Commissioner of the Chicago Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, who represents the city's paratransit riders.[5]

Service area

Pace serves Cook, Lake, Will, Kane, McHenry, and DuPage counties-essentially, the inner ring of the Chicago area. Some of Pace's bus routes also go to Chicago and Northwest Indiana. In some areas, notably Evanston, River Forest, Oak Park, Cicero, and Skokie, both Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority provide service.

Many of Pace's route terminals are located at CTA rail stations and bus terminals and Metra stations. The CTA and Pace have shared a payment system since 2014 called Ventra. Ventra accounts are required to obtain transfers.[6] In 2015, Metra was added to the Ventra app.[7]

Pace buses generally have longer routes than CTA buses. Due to its geographic service area, service is provided by eleven operating divisions (see below), as well as under agreements with several municipalities and private operators (school bus and motor coach companies). Pace buses provide service from the suburbs to various special events in the city, such as Routes 282 and 779 for Chicago Cubs games, Routes 773, 774 and 775 for Chicago White Sox games, Routes 236, 768, 769 and 776 for Chicago Bears games, Route 222 provides extra service to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont for events scheduled there, Route 284 to Six Flags Great America, Route 387 for events at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview.[8]


Pace Bus

The majority of Pace bus routes run daily, seven days a week. Other routes run Monday through Saturday, weekdays only, or weekday rush hours only. One route, 352 Halsted, runs 24 hours a day/seven days a week, and four routes 390, 392, 395 and 890, run only for weekday UPS shifts changes.

During weekday rush hours, Pace buses are authorized to use the shoulder of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, Edens Expressway, and Stevenson Expressway to avoid traffic congestion.[9]

Pace Pulse

Main article: Pace Pulse

Pulse Milwaukee Line

Pace began operating a new rapid transit service between the Jefferson Park Transit Center and Golf Mill Shopping Center on August 11, 2019.[10] The new Pulse service overlaps with part of Pace route 270 which saw a reduction in the route's service frequency.[11]

Pulse Dempster Line

The Pace Pulse line on Dempster Street spans Evanston, Skokie, and Des Plaines, and terminates at O'Hare International Airport.[12] The Dempster Pulse line inaugural run was on August 13, 2023 with a full launch on October 29, 2023.[13] The route connects to the Chicago "L" with the CTA Purple Line's Davis station and the CTA Yellow Line's Dempster–Skokie station. It also connects to Metra stations at Evanston Davis Street on the Union Pacific North Line and Des Plaines on the Union Pacific Northwest Line.

Priority Corridors for Future Development

Pace is also considering adding routes from Cermak Road, Harlem Avenue and Roosevelt Road. All three proposed routes start from the southwest side of Chicago and provide routes to either the West Suburbs or in the case of the Harlem route, further south in Chicago.[14]

I-90 Express

Main article: Pace I-90 Express

In December 2016, Pace began an on-highway BRT express bus service between Rosemont Transportation Center and Elgin on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway. The service uses "flex lanes" to avoid traffic and features train station like stops.[15][16]

ADA services

Pace is responsible for ADA paratransit service in its service area, and, effective July 1, 2006, for paratransit service in Chicago.[17] Pace also coordinates various Dial-a-Ride projects, usually sponsored by various municipalities and townships.[18] One of the largest is Ride DuPage, sponsored by Du Page County Human Services.[19] All Pace buses are wheelchair accessible and have racks accommodating one bicycle, available during all hours of operation. Pace claims itself as the nation's largest paratransit service provider, providing approximately 17,000 daily trips on paratransit, dial-a-ride and ADvAntage vanpools.[20]

Vanpool incentive program

Pace operates a Vanpool Incentive Program, where groups save by commuting together in a van owned and maintained by Pace and driven by one of the participants.[21] There is also a Municipal Vanpool Program, under which Pace provides a van to a municipality, for any public transportation purpose (such as demand response service for senior citizens).[22]

Operational structure

Given Pace's large service area, it is broken up into eleven operating divisions. Additionally, Niles, Highland Park and Schaumburg operate routes on behalf of Pace.

A 2600-series Pace bus in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
Division Garage Location Areas Served Notes
Fox Valley North Aurora Aurora and Naperville
Heritage Plainfield Will County
McHenry McHenry McHenry County
North Waukegan Waukegan and Lake County
North Shore Evanston North Cook County and southeast Lake County
Northwest Des Plaines Northwest Cook County
River South Elgin Elgin Area and Far western suburbs
South Markham Southern Cook County and DuPage County The only garage with CNG buses. As of September 2022, under construction to become a CNG bus maintenance facility. (Currently only offers CNG fueling.)
South Holland South Holland n/a Acceptance facility for new buses and maintains electronic equipment on buses
Southwest Bridgeview Southwest Cook County and DuPage County
West Melrose Park Western Cook and DuPage counties


Bus fleet

In 2011, Pace received its first diesel-electric hybrid buses from Orion Bus Industries. These Orion VII buses were the first buses in the Pace fleet to not be powered directly by diesel. In 2015, Pace received its first fleet of compressed natural gas buses from ElDorado National; these buses operate mainly in the southern suburbs.[citation needed]

Year Manufacturer & Model Length Engine Type Numbers Divisions Notes
2006–2010 ENC EZ-Rider II MAX 30 ft
(9.1 m)
Diesel 2600–2825
(222 buses)
Fox Valley, Heritage, Highland Park, Northwest, River, Southwest, Village of Niles
2011 ENC EZ-Rider II BRT 32 ft
(9.8 m)
Diesel 2826–2829
(4 buses)
Fox Valley
2011 Orion VII 30 ft
(9.1 m)
(2 buses)
Highland Park
  • Used on routes 471 and 472.
  • First hybrid buses ordered by Pace, painted in a green livery.
MCI D4000CT 40 ft
(12 m)
Diesel 6950–6979
(30 buses)
  • Used on routes 755, 850, 851 and 855 as part of "Bus on Shoulder" operations on I-55.
2012–2018 ENC Axess BRT 40 ft
(12 m)
Diesel 6323–6575
(337 buses)
North, North Shore, Northwest, River, Southwest, West
2015–2020 ENC Axess BRT 40 ft
(12 m)
CNG 15500–15520
(108 buses)
  • First CNG powered buses ordered by Pace
2020 New Flyer Xcelsior XD40 40 ft
(12 m)
Diesel 20400–20485
(85 buses)
2021 ENC Axess BRT 30 ft
(9.1 m)
Diesel 20300–20322
(23 buses)
Fox Valley
2023 Proterra ZX5 MAX 40ft (12 m) Electric N/A (20 buses) North Announced on 4/5/2022: Proterra won a $26.5M contract from Pace Suburban Bus to deliver 20 Proterra ZX5 Max electric transit buses (675kWh battery) and EV fleet charging infrastructure, with the first electric bus delivery in 2023.


  1. ^ About Pace
  2. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Third Quarter 2023" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. November 30, 2023. Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  3. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2022" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. March 1, 2023. Retrieved March 29, 2023.
  4. ^ "Transitions & Innovations: 2022 Annual Report" (PDF).
  5. ^ Pace. "Pace Board of Directors". Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  6. ^ "Ventra™ is here, Pace riders" (Press release). Pace. 2014-03-19. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  7. ^ "CTA, Metra and Pace Release New Ventra App to the Public". Chicago Transit Authority. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  8. ^ Pace. "Special Events". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  9. ^ "Pace Buses to Ride on Shoulder of I-55". NBC 5 Chicago. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Pulse-Launch-Newsletter7.12.19.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  11. ^ Greenfield, John (2019-08-06). "Pace's Pulse Service, Launching Sunday, Isn't BRT But It Will Be an Upgrade". Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  12. ^ "Faster bus service to O'Hare is on the way". 12 July 2022.
  13. ^ "Pulse - Dempster Line Route | Pace Suburban Bus".
  14. ^ "Priority Corridors for Future Development | Pace Suburban Bus". 27 May 2020.
  15. ^ Danahey, Mike (21 December 2016). "New Pace bus routes between Elgin and suburban locations launched this week". Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  16. ^ "Pace Bus". Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  17. ^ Illinois General Assembly (2005). "Public Act 0370, 94th General Assembly".
  18. ^ Pace. "Dial-a-ride Service Directory". Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  19. ^ DuPage County. "Ride DuPage".
  20. ^ Pace. Moving Forward (newsletter), July 23, 2010.
  21. ^ Pace. "Vanpool Incentive Program". Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  22. ^ Pace. "Municipal Vanpool Program". Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  23. ^ "Pace Divisions | Pace Suburban Bus". Retrieved 2021-04-19.