In journalism lingo, it’s called burying the lead (technically “lede”). Deep into the second paragraph of today’s announcement from the CTA, which touted a new initiative to improve service, came the language that has a number of North Siders up in arms: “CTA has proposed discontinuing a small number of routes that duplicate existing service or that have extremely low ridership.”
One of those routes, it turns out, is the #11 Lincoln Avenue bus, specifically the stretch it covers between Western and Fullerton.
Riders bemoaned the loss, venting their frustration online: “Ugh. This destroys how I get to work,” wrote one.
The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce immediately dashed off a complaint on behalf of the local businesses it represents, particularly those along Lincoln between Belmont and Diversey: “Lincoln Avenue is quickly becoming Chicago’s hot new commercial corridor and accessible public transportation fosters continued growth. The local work force and consumers rely on the #11 bus to get them to this area of Lincoln Avenue.” (As of publication, the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce had yet to respond to CSJ‘s request for comment.)
CTA concedes that #11 is a busy route. “We have pretty good ridership on this route,” said Tammy Chase, CTA spokersperson, citing statistics that show an average of 5,800 riders per weekday. “It’s not a ridership issue.”
Rather, service was considered duplicative with Brown Line rail stops. “There’s plenty of transportation there,” Chase said. East-west bus routes along major arterial streets shuttle passengers to and from Brown Line stations, she noted, and walking from even the Damen or Montrose stops to Lincoln is less than a mile. “We factored all this in.”
The bigger picture, according to Chase, is the need for CTA to add service where ridership is experiencing tremendous growth, which the agency opted to accomplish via route efficiencies as opposed to fare hikes.
Still, CTA’s proposal is just that, a proposal. A hearing to gather public feedback is scheduled for Sept. 4, 6 p.m., 567 W. Lake St. The CTA board will vote on the measure Sept. 12.
To contact CTA regarding the Lincoln bus, email email@example.com.
Update, 8/23/2012: Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) expressed his displeasure with the CTA’s decision to the Chicago Tribune. “I’m not happy about it,” said Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th. “I want to make sure this cut is not disproportionately impacting low-income residents or seniors. We’re talking about making different parts of the city more affordable, increasing public transportation options. This kind of flies in the face of that.”
Update, 8/23/2012: A petition is circulating to save the #11 route at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-11-lincoln-avenue-bus/