By Jon Hilkevitch
6:56 AM CDT, September 10, 2013
CTA bus routes end blocks away from a Wal-Mart Supercenter scheduled to open this week on Chicago's Far South Side, and an angry alderman on Monday demanded that the transit agency extend service for the store's customers and employees.
Hours later, CTA officials said they were scrambling to provide a solution.
Calling it a matter of "transportation justice," Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, said CTA officials have violated an agreement signed in 2011 to provide bus service to the new Wal-Mart, at 10900 S. Doty Ave. in the Pullman Park neighborhood.
"When we first began planning for Wal-Mart, CTA was a part of the discussion and said when the store opens, they would provide bus service,'' said Beale, chairman of the City Council transportation committee.
CTA bus routes No. 106 East 103rd and No. 111 111th/King Drive currently stop at Cottage Grove Avenue, which is several blocks from the store that is part of a $135 million development.
Beale said he is outraged and he threatened to convene public hearings on the CTA bus routes if the situation is not rectified by the time the Wal-Mart opens this week.
The alderman said the retail developer built the site to accommodate buses with a bus turnaround and nearby sidewalks for commuters. He said CTA officials told him it would cost $680,000 a year to extend the two bus routes to the Wal-Mart. But Beale said the costs would be offset by the additional riders making trips to the store.
CTA officials, acknowledging that they signed the 2011 contract Beale described, said late Monday afternoon that the transit agency is working with the developer and Beale and will implement service "as soon as possible.''
"We hope to have both route extensions up and running in short order," CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. "We don't have a specific date at this point but will announce as soon as a schedule is set."
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