WESTERN SPRINGS, Ill. (CBS) –Pace has unveiled its 2020 budget—and it holds some bad news for some suburban riders.
To save money, the agency has proposed eliminating eight bus routes that it describes as “underperforming.”
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas dug a little deeper and discovered why many who want to speak up about the cuts might never get to do so in person.
Dwight Schwartz uses Pace Route 669 to get to the Western Springs Metra station every morning.
“It works great for myself,” he said.
But in 2020, he might need a new plan.
“This is my way of getting into the train station for work in the morning,” Schwartz said. “I’d have to go out and buy and a new car, pay insurance for that car, and also pay for parking.”
Route 669 is one of eight routes that Pace plans to eliminate next year. According to Pace, the 669 route has had a 49 percent drop in ridership since 2009, going from about 45 riders per day to about 23.
Other proposed cuts include Route 806 from Crystal Lake to Fox Lake, and Route 540 through Aurora.
Pace says the routes are underperforming and not enough people ride on them.
Andrew Creighton, who also rides every day in Western Springs, hopes Pace will reconsider.
“Since ’89 I’ve been riding it, and it’s a great convenience,” Creighton said.
Pace is holding 12 budget hearings between Oct. 21 and Oct. 30 at locations around the city and suburbs. Riders are welcome to show up and share their thoughts on the plans.
The only problem is that every meeting ends by 6 p.m.
“The people that ride the bus are still coming home at 4 to 6 o’clock,” Creighton said.
The Illinois Open Meetings Act states public meetings should be held at “times and places which are convenient.” Pace says they are in compliance with the law and are hosting more hearings than they are required to.
A spokesperson said they had held later meetings in the past in the City of Chicago, and many of them were not well-attended.
But Schwartz says he can’t attend the hearing closest to him—which is 9 miles from the Western Springs stop—because of the scheduled time.
“I don’t have way of getting there,” Schwartz said. “I’ll probably have to just write an email response and leave a voicemail.”
Pace invites impacted riders to do that – submit their thoughts online or call.
“I always feel like something like this, the decision’s made ahead of time,” Schwartz said.
But a spokesperson said Pace reads every online comment and they’ll take them all into consideration before their final decisions. Pace will also consider whether to have later public meetings in the future.
The agency plans to live stream its October board meeting, in which the budget will be presented, online. The scheduled public hearings, however, will not be live streamed.
Pace said none of the proposals are set in stone and they have changed their plans in the past based on public input.
Pace also says they have will have representatives taking comments and questions on board all eight routes proposed for elimination.