By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz
8:18 PM CDT, June 3, 2013
Since the CTA cut some bus service by her Lakeview home in December, Jennifer Burgess has abandoned one of her weekend rituals: brunching at Wishbone, shopping at Whole Foods and visiting Dinkel's bakery—all off Lincoln Avenue.
"We haven't done that since they cut the buses," said Burgess, 40. "It's too much. ... We wouldn't want to haul those bags to the Brown Line."
This month will mark six months since the CTA eliminated No. 11 Lincoln Avenue bus service between the Western and Fullerton stations as part of a controversial so-called systemwide decrowding plan.
On Dec. 16, the CTA added rush-hour service to 48 bus routes and all but two rail lines. About a dozen partial or full bus routes were cut.
Last month, the agency called the decrowding plan a success because the extra service has reduced the sardine feeling on some buses and trains. But it's unclear whether the decrowding is working because of the extra service or because of fewer riders. About 4.9 million fewer people rode the CTA this year through April, compared to the same period last year, according to agency ridership reports. That's a 2.8 percent decrease.
Some residents and business owners near Lincoln Avenue wouldn't call the service changes a success.
Burgess can rattle off a half-dozen bars and restaurants she and her husband, Jeff Heath, 33, no longer patronize because of the extra time it takes to walk three-tenths of a mile to the Diversey Brown Line station and then walk from the Brown Line to their final destination.
Burgess and Heath, who don't have a car, said they find themselves using Peapod, a grocery home-delivery service. Burgess said the cuts have "definitely made where we live less attractive to me."
As the owner of Heritage Bicycles General Store, Michael Salvatore said his business hasn't been affected by the Lincoln cuts because his company is new so all he's seen is growth. Salvatore, 32, also lives above his shop on Lincoln Avenue.
"Personally, it sucks," Salvatore said. "We're just relying more on our bikes now."
Salvatore said he's talked to a few prospective Lincoln Avenue business owners who said the loss of No. 11 service is a hurdle to setting up shop.
But Heather Way, executive director of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, said businesses are still taking a "keen interest" in Lincoln Avenue, though the cut "hasn't been easy for a lot of people."
"In general, we made it through the winter," Way said. "I think winter was probably the truest test, and we're just going to see where we go from here."
The Chicago Architecture Foundation on Thursday will announce the winners of its design contest, which encouraged Chicagoans to envision the waiting areas for bus rapid transit. Go to architecture.org/eveningprograms to register.
The love below
The Low-Line Market, a place to buy produce and flowers under the CTA tracks by the Southport Brown Line stop, will premiere Thursday.
A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Roosevelt on the Red, Orange and Green lines
The South Loop station is a popular transit spot for transfer between three heavy-traffic rail lines. Unfortunately, it also is a hub for crime. On May 24, two people were shot near the stop. A Chicago Police spokesman on Monday said no one has been charged in the shootings.
Next up: Polk Pink Line
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