So much for power to the people. After listening to dozens of residents’ complaints at a public hearing last week and receiving a petition signed by more than 2,000 citizens, the CTA board rejected a bid to save the #11 Lincoln bus, voting today to approve the “Crowding Reduction Plan,” which will eliminate service on the #11 route between Western and Fullerton Avenues.
“I feel like we really put our best foot forward to communicate to CTA how important the bus is to Lakeview and other communities,” said Heather Way, executive director of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce (LCC). “Our pleas for them to reconsider fell on deaf ears.”
In eliminating the Western-to-Fullerton segment of the Lincoln Avenue route, CTA reasoned that transit riders are already served by “duplicative” Brown Line stations. To be sure, stations such as Paulina sit right along Lincoln but others are a mile away. Speaking before the CTA board last week, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) argued that senior citizens and people with disabilities can’t be expected to easily negotiate such distances.
Commenting on today’s vote, Pawar expressed his disappointment: “We fought very hard to change minds at the CTA. ‘Efficiency’ trumped the concerns of our community. The CTA got this one wrong.”
LCC’s Way is worried that the loss of the #11 bus will undo all the recent progress made by businesses along Lincoln Avenue between Belmont and Diversey, where a tenuous economic revival is under way. “Hopefully we’ll be able to sustain and spur growth.” Her tentative plan of action is to publicize alternate transit routes, as well with walking and biking along Lincoln. Another option is to identify additional parking sources. “Unfortunately, we’re going to have to encourage people to drive,” she said.
The Lincoln Avenue route has been rescued from the chopping block before, which is one reason Michael Salvatore, owner of Heritage Bicycles at 2959 N. Lincoln Ave., was shocked to learn the #11 would no longer pass by his store. “The year I move in, it gets cut.”
One of the biggest champions for reinvigorating the corridor of Lincoln situated south of Belmont, Salvatore isn’t ready to throw in the towel on the #11. “I’m thinking about doing weekly rallies, slow rides down Lincoln,” he said. Though Heritage draws largely from cyclists and neighbors who walk to the store for a cup of coffee, Salvatore understands the importance of the bus to his fellow business owners.
“To get more business in this area, you want to promote transportation,” he said. “It’s extremely shortsighted for CTA to cut this bus now.”
Given that the #11 runs through a major commercial corridor, along a diagonal street no less, Salvatore is mystified by the board’s decision. “I don’t understand how cutting off a bus mid-route is going to save money…. It just blows logic away.”
The changes in transit service are expected to take effect mid-December.