CHICAGO (CBS) — About 50 people filed into the South Shore Cultural Center Monday to sound off on the Chicago Transit Authority’s plan to shut down the south branch of the Red Line for five months next spring.

Commuter Wallace Bradley said the plan disenfranchises African Americans who rely on the South Side train service.

“We’re talking about people who take public transportation every day,” he said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports

The CTA announced earlier this month that it would close the Dan Ryan branch for five months, starting in May 2013, to expedite work on a $425 million project that includes the installation of new steel rails, ties and ballast, along with drainage improvements.

CTA President Forrest Claypool said the inconvenience of the plan is worth it, considering it would take four years of hassles to implement repairs piecemeal.

The plan would close almost 10 miles of track and nine stations from the Cermak-Chinatown stop all the way to 95th Street. But the agency says it will be hiring 150 to 200 bus drivers to provide Red Line riders with free shuttles to other rail lines.

“You’ll get off at 95th street and there will be a free shuttle,” CTA Board Chairman Terry Peterson said.

Not everyone was dissatisfied. Commuter Sue Perington said the rehab work is long overdue.

The next public hearing will be on Thursday at Kennedy King College. Three other meetings will take place in July.