“I’m not happy about it,” said Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th. “I want to make sure this cut is not disproportionately impacting low-income residents or seniors. We’re talking about making different parts of the city more affordable, increasing public transportation options. This kind of flies in the face of that.”

Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd, said she is pleased with the changes.

Her Lincoln Park ward has some of the busiest “L” and bus stops in the city, and the changes should improve services to them, she said.

“It appears the CTA has done a professional job in reviewing CTA ridership in a data-driven way,” Smith said.

CTA conducted a monthslong analysis with the help of researchers at Northwestern University’s Transportation Center, but ultimately the decisions were made by the CTA, officials said.

“What is new here is that we examined the entire system, instead of just route by route,” said Hani Mahmassani, director of the NU transportation center. “We were able to look at the effect of de-crowding. We are ensuring on certain routes that, using very detailed (rider) demand information, we do not exceed occupancy, to make sure the comfort level is not exceeded.”

On over-crowded buses that typically receive “crush loading” of 70 passengers, the new target is 45 to 55 passengers per bus, CTA officials said.

More equipment and train runs will be added as well. Rail cars stuffed with 90 or more riders when the CTA is operating at maximum capacity are targeted to see maximum loading decreased to 70 to 75 passengers, officials said.

Tribune reporters Naomi Nix and John Byrne contributed. Tracy Swartz is a RedEye reporter.

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