Community leaders and residents attended the first of two CTA budget meetings en masse Monday night to show their disapproval of the CTA’s decision to eliminate the #11 Lincoln Avenue bus.
Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), State Representative Ann Williams (11th), Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey (12th) and dozens of #11 bus riders attended the hearing to show the CTA’s Board of Directors “the human impact” of their decision to eliminate the route.
Pawar praised the board for the work they’ve already done so far, and added that he’s not just asking for them to completely reverse their decision, but rather work with him and other community leaders to find a solution that would keep the #11 in operation.
“I believe that the cuts to the #11 bus doesn’t factor in the human cost,” Pawar said. “I’m here to ask respectfully that [we] keep the conversation going. Give me a little bit of time…I don’t want us to solve a fiscal issue only to create a social problem.”
Pawar reiterated his previous claim that he’s willing to surplus 47th Ward TIF funding to help keep the #11 alive in some capacity. He also opened up the possibility of limiting the #11′s hours of operation to only match those of retail businesses along Lincoln Avenue.
Organizers set up a shuttle bus system that helped residents attend the meeting. Two buses from A & M Bus Company were used to transport the roughly 100 Lincoln Bus supporters that were present. Yellow shirts, which read “Save the #11!” on the front, and “It’s Our Lifeline!” on the back, were also passed out among the riders.
By the time the meeting began, shortly after 6 p.m., all of the 154 seats were filled and more than three dozen additional attendees lined the walls of the second floor conference room at CTA Headquarters, 567 W. Lake St.
Addressing the CTA Board, Fritchey compared the color of the shirts with a yellow stoplight, suggesting the board slow its decision making process and fully vet the consequences of their decisions.
“It’s telling to me that the t-shirts you’re seeing the folks wear here are yellow and not red,” Fritchey said. “They’re not asking you to stop right now. Just hold off, slow down. Like a traffic light. Let’s work together and find an answer to get this done.”
A recent analysis by Center Square Journal found that ridership this year on the #11 is up over 2011.
On Dec. 5, CTA President Forrest Claypool sent a letter to Heather Way, executive director of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, saying the #11 Lincoln bus was still slated for elimination. Claypool explained that the 12 routes set for elimination were chosen with two criteria: low ridership or nearby alternate transit options that provide duplicative service.
“The #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick segment between the Western Brown Line station and Fullerton ‘L’ station falls in the latter category,” the letter read. “Nearly every segment of Lincoln Avenue from Western to Fullerton sits within a few blocks (and in some cases, adjacent to) another CTA bus or rail line.”
Other issues raised at the forum included other bus lines being eliminated and the impending CTA fare increases, specifically the raise in price to ride the CTA Blue Line from O’Hare International Airport, which is set to increase to $5 for a one-way ride.
The second of the two meetings is scheduled for Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. at Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Boulevard.