CTA president Forrest Claypool said Wednesday the agency has no plans to restore a controversial 2012 cut of Lincoln Avenue bus service despite a North Side alderman's push to have service reinstated.
"We have no plans to change our previous crowding reduction initiatives," Claypool said following the CTA board's monthly meeting.
Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) said his office is surveying constituents to measure the No. 11 cut's impact on residents and area businesses. Pawar said his office is gathering anecdotes to present to the CTA.
The CTA board in 2012 voted to cut a portion of the Lincoln Avenue bus, between the Western and Fullerton Brown Line stops, as part of an initiative to make buses and trains less crowded during rush hour. Besides the No. 11, about a dozen partial or full routes also were cut.
As part of that same initiative, the CTA added service to 48 bus routes and nearly all rail routes.
At a CTA hearing before the board vote, more than a hundred North Siders rallied against cutting the No. 11. Some said the bus cut would affect how they get around their neighborhood. The CTA said riders can take the Brown Line instead.
Pawar said the cut negatively impacted senior citizens who used the bus to get to the library and doctors appointments.
"For a lot of people, this [bus] is a critical lifeline," Pawar said.
Buses and trains did become less crowded last year as ridership dipped. CTA ridership was down nearly 3 percent systemwide in 2013 versus 2012, when ridership reached record levels. Bus ridership was down 4.4 percent while rail ridership was down 0.7 percent in the same period.
The No. 11 bus logged 1.6 million rides in 2012. As part of the decrowding plan, the No. 11 bus continues to operate on Lincoln Avenue north of the Western stop and the CTA created the No. 37-Sedgwick bus to operate the original No. 11 route south of the Fullerton stop.
Combined, the No. 11 and No. 37 routes logged 925,170 rides in 2013. The No. 11 route lost 706,000 rides after the service cut, CTA data show.
All of the Brown Line stations between Western and Fullerton saw a ridership increase in 2013 compared with 2012 except for the Belmont and Fullerton stops, which both serve the Red Line as well.
Pawar said he doesn't feel No. 11 bus is redundant service to the Brown Line because the train doesn't run along Lincoln Avenue.
He pointed to a controversial proposal to create express bus service along Ashland Avenue as an example of redundancy because the express and local buses would both operate on Ashland.
The CTA has proposed creating bus rapid transit on Ashland between Irving Park Road and 95th Street. The route, which would feature traffic signal priority for buses and bus-only lanes, would stop every half mile at major intersections.
The CTA said it also would continue to run the local No. 9-Ashland bus to pick up customers in between the express bus stops.
Pawar, whose ward covers Ashland Avenue between Addison Street and Irving Park Road, said he will not support the Ashland bus rapid transit plan because of inconsistencies in what the CTA considers redundant service.
"That is totally inconsistent. ... Redundancy on Ashland is a good thing, but redundancy on Lincoln is a bad thing?" Pawar questioned.
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