Upcoming demise of CTA's No. 11 bus makes riders feel powerless

Since she got wind of the route's elimination, Martin has been part of an ardent army that puts fliers in neighborhood shops and pleas in church bulletins. (They recently cut the fliers to half-size; the full sheets cost too much.)

The campaigners scored a big turnout at a CTA meeting in September. They presented an e-petition backed by the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce.

"We thought, wow, this is going to work," Martin said.

It didn't.

"This board didn't even pretend to listen," she said. "They're not only not listening. They're disrespectful, feeling smug because they're appointed, not elected."

The doomed three-mile stretch of the No. 11 is not the only route set to vanish Dec. 16, but it is the one that has stirred the loudest opposition.

I rode the bus for a while Tuesday, and all the riders expressed concern and regret. Their reasons ranged from fear to sentimental attachment. Some just like this path through Chicago.

"I think change by its very nature is sometimes difficult to navigate," said Brian Steele, a CTA spokesman. "But I do think that when current No. 11 riders take a close look at the options available and start trying out those options, they're going to find that the services they receive get them to their destinations in a timely and convenient fashion the way the No. 11 did."

But the No. 11 lovers are looking for more than convenience. They wanted to be heard. Instead, they felt that a decision that affects their lives and livelihoods was made even before they spoke.

"You want to have a voice," Salvatore said. "But the machine is the machine. It does what it wants without you."