By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz
7:18 PM CST, December 10, 2012
What was supposed to be a hearing Monday about proposed CTA fare hikes turned into a last-ditch effort to save the No. 11 Lincoln Avenue bus.
Many of the 190 attendees at the hearing wore yellow shirts asking the CTA board to "Save the #11 bus; it's our lifeline." The board voted without opposition months ago to cancel the No. 11 service between the Western Brown Line station and the Fullerton Brown Line station as part of service changes to reduce crowding on six train lines and 48 bus routes.
These changes are set to go into effect Sunday. More than 5,800 riders take the No. 11 on an average weekday. The cut is expected to save the CTA $1.4 million annually. The CTA's cancellation of the No. 145 Wilson/Michigan Express also is a controversial move.
On the No. 11, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) asked for more time to come up with an alternative to cutting part of the bus service. He proposed using TIF funds, money intended to create local development, to save the bus.
"I believe the cut to the No. 11 bus does not factor in the human cost or the human toll," Pawar told the board. "Public transportation is supposed to be available to everybody."
Public speakers at Monday's hearing focused their energy on efforts to save the No. 11, not the proposed fare hikes--although one O'Hare worker complained that some airport employees cannot afford to pay for a monthly pass or the proposed $2.75 hike for trips from O'Hare for riders without unlimited passes.
The CTA last month proposed hiking the cost of daily and weekly unlimited passes to close its budget shortfall. The cost of a 30-day unlimited pass would rise from $86 to $100. The base price of single train trips ($2.25) and bus trips ($2 with a card) would not change under the CTA's proposal.
The agency is hosting one more budget hearing at 6 p.m. Monday at Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd. The agency's board is scheduled to vote on the budget proposal Dec. 18.
The CTA has posted the bus and train schedules for its service changes, which take effect Sunday. Go to redeyechicago.com for analysis on how train riders will be affected by these changes.
Holiday Train spotting
The annual CTA Holiday Train continues its run Wednesday, Friday and Saturday on the Red Line. Thursday and Saturday, it's on the Purple Line. Spot the train? Snap a photo and send to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to Twitter and tag it with #holidaytrainspotting for GP's annual holiday train gallery.
A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Clark/Lake
Penny for your … rides? The CTA last week announced at the Clark/Lake station that it would continue its annual program to offer rides on New Year's Eve for a cent. MillerCoors signed on to pay for this year's rides (so no penny is necessary). During the press conference last week, the CTA also unveiled artwork of the Chicago skyline made out of pennies, which will be displayed at the Clark/Lake station through the holidays. The buck stops here.
Next up: Pulaski Blue Line
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