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A tale of few bus routes

By Tracy Swartz @tracyswartz

RedEye

12:45 PM CDT, September 17, 2012

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To the riders who watched the CTA board vote last week to cut their bus route so the agency could beef up service in other areas, consider the plight of Little Village.

In 1997, the CTA eliminated a bus route that traveled along 31st Street because the route saw low ridership. The line was one of 10 bus routes cut in an attempt to save the agency $25 million a year. At the time, officials said alternative service was available.

But the residents of Little Village didn't see it that way. They wrote letters and held community meetings and contacted their local officials to have service restored. They even debated running their own shuttle to get residents to their jobs or nearby rail stations.

Three years ago, federal funding was approved for bus service along 31st Street, but the CTA was unable to match the grant with $1 million.

Finally, Little Village residents saw their bus service restored—two weeks ago. And only on a temporary basis.

The CTA said it will study the route, an extension of the 35th Street bus that now operates along 31st Street between Kedzie and Cicero avenues, for six months. The cost of the six-month trial is $600,000.

That's exactly how much money the CTA is saving annually by eliminating the No. 145 Wilson/Michigan Express, which was one of more than a dozen routes that saw total or partial elimination.

Again, CTA said alternative service—the No. 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express, which will see more service—is sufficient for riders of the No. 145, which runs along the lakefront between the Ravenswood Metra station and the LaSalle Street Metra station.

Again, residents wrote letters and contacted their aldermen. They crowded into a room for one community meeting earlier this month and delivered impassioned pleas to save their bus—which with 6,600 weekday riders, certainly doesn't suffer from low ridership. The No. 145 sees more riders than about two-thirds of the CTA's bus routes.

And though the CTA said it received more than 400 comments from riders, many asking the agency not to cut the No. 145 or eliminate some of the service of the No. 11 Lincoln Avenue bus route, all six board members present voted for the bus cuts. (The seventh board member, Jacquelyne Grimshaw, was not present for the vote.)

Before voting, some board members said it was not an easy decision to make. The comments, the petitions, the presence at meetings wasn't enough to sway even one board member to vote against the proposal, which takes effect in mid-December.

Perhaps if North Siders keep trying to push for the service, as Little Village residents have done, they too, will see their service restored. Let's just hope it doesn't take another 15 years.

Art of the deal

The CTA is seeking artists to create works for seven Red Line stations currently undergoing rehabilitation. The agency is hosting two community meetings about the project, which has an Oct. 10 deadline for submissions.

The meetings will be held 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, at the Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway; and 7 p.m. Thursday at United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse Ave.

Meanwhile, Art on Track, an annual event that features an art gallery on a moving CTA train, will be held 5-10 p.m. Saturday on the Blue Line between the Logan Square and UIC-Halsted stops. Tickets are available for $10 at artontrack.eventbrite.com.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Pulaski Pink Line

This stop, in North Lawndale, features blue-and-red mosaics with quotes from famous African-Americans such as poet Haki Madhubuti and boxer Muhammad Ali, but not all signs in the station were worth looking at Monday morning. That's when Going Public noticed two of the electronic displays on the platform were not working. Perhaps it's a sign that maintenance needs to visit this station.

Next up: Bryn Mawr Red Line

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