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Some CTA Riders Upset With Plans To Shuffle Bus Routes

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The CTA is taking heat for its plan to discontinue a dozen bus lines and redistribute the buses to more heavily-patronized routes as it also steps up ‘L’ service on most of its rapid transit lines.

Those who stand to lose their routes in December have begun setting up Web sites, filing Freedom of Information requests and preparing to speak with CTA officials at or in advance of a scheduled Sept. 4 public hearing.

Beginning in December, the CTA intends to deploy more than 70 additional ‘L’ cars during rush hours and take buses from a dozen newly-scuttled routes to provide additional service on 48 other heavily-patronized routes.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

CTA President Forrest Claypool said the agency has a modest goal — to decrease the load on peak-period buses from 70 or more to an average of 45 to 55 riders, and aboard ‘L’ cars from 90 to 70.

Claypool said, even with the delivery of 706 new ‘L’ cars underway, there is no way to provide enough seats for everyone.

“A little more personal space will make the trip a little more enjoyable for everyone,” he said.

Eliminating the low-patronage bus routes and segments will free up about $16 million, which he said will be redeployed to provide additional service throughout the day and on weekends.

“We have crush loads on weekends, believe it or not, on lines such as the Red Line,” he said. “So we’ll be adding weekend service there to beef it up, as well as in the a.m. and p.m. rush.”

The Blue and Brown Lines also will get weekend enhancements. In fact, service will be increased on all rapid transit lines weekdays, except for the Pink and Yellow Lines.

Routes to be discontinued include the X28/Stony Island Express, 122/Illinois Center/Ogilvie Express, 123/Illinois Center/Union Express, 144/Marine/Michigan Express, 145/Wilson-Michigan Express, portions of the 1/Indiana Hyde Park and 11/Lincoln/Sedgwick routes and the N201 Central/Sherman bus that provides overnight service in Evanston when the Purple Line is not operating.

Any change to CTA routes is controversial, so the transit agency has scheduled the Sept. 4 public hearing at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St., to take feedback. The CTA’s board is expected to vote on the initiative at its Sept. 12 meeting, with any schedule changes that are approved to take effect on Dec. 16.