CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite reservations voiced by several riders, and concerns from several board members, the CTA’s board voted Wednesday to approve service changes that will add service on six rapid transit and 48 bus routes, but eliminate all or portions of up to 26 bus routes.
Only the Pink and Yellow Lines will not see more service when the changes take effect Dec. 16. The CTA said it will have room for 10,000 additional riders on heavily-traveled routes.
But the focus again Wednesday was on lines that will be eliminated — and particularly the 145/Wilson-Michigan Express, which will be eliminated, and the 11/Lincoln, which will lose the middle of its route between the Western and Fullerton Brown Line stations.
“I don’t take the Red Line downtown because it is 50 steps up to the platform,” said retired UIC professor Martin Tangora, in defense of the 145/Wilson-Michigan Express. “But the Wilson bus is door to door to downtown.”
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Another man said he has spoken with a number of 11/Lincoln riders who are upset by the change.
“Putting them onto the Brown Line, which you’re adding service to because it’s overcrowded, it makes no sense to me,” said Allan Mellis of the Wrightwood Neighbors, who spoke both at the Sept. 4 public hearing and Wednesday’s board meeting.
CTA Chairman Terry Peterson said the many complaints raised by advocates for the two bus routes resulted in a flurry of activity by planners in the past week, but Peterson said no better alternative could be found.
“Each of us, after that public hearing, wanted more information and wanted clarification on some of the issues, so we did hear the concerns that were raised,” he said.
More than 160 people attended, and 72 riders spoke at, the public hearing Sept. 4, with the majority of the comments focusing on the two routes.
CTA spokesman Brian Steele conceded that 2,500 riders each weekday ride the 11/Lincoln on the segment to be eliminated. In all, the route serves 5,500 riders a day.
Board member Kevin Irvine, while casting a yes vote, called it a “really, really, really tough proposal to consider,” and said he feared that some riders with disabilities would have to call Pace for paratransit instead.
Paratransit costs taxpayers $40 a ride to subsidize. One speaker last week said six group home residents who work for him and currently use the 11/Lincoln would be forced to result to paratransit five days a week. Each will pay a $3 fare; Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot said the subsidy for the year works out to $110,000 for the six riders.
CTA hopes to decrease the average number of riders on its weekday buses from 58 to 49, and on ‘L’ cars from 95 to 75.