CTA hearing features Round 2 in bus cut debate, complaints on fare hikes

It was deju vu all over again at a CTA public hearing Monday night, as scores of people fighting to save a key segment of the #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick bus jammed the meeting room.

Some creative solutions were offered by attendees, including a pitch from 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar to use excess TIF funds from his ward to fund the route segment from Fullerton to Western slated to be cut on Dec. 16.

But neither the CTA board nor its president showed any sign of compromising on the issue, which also was discussed at a November September public hearing on the CTA's plan to reduce crowding.

Some riders also decried the increase in the price of passes, and the steep jump in the fare from the O'Hare terminal on the Blue Line - from $2.25 to $5. The fare increase are set to take effect  Jan. 14. Another budget hearing is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 17 at Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd.

In November 2008, when the CTA last increased fares, the board surprised some by reducing the increase on passes. For instance, a 30-day pass was supposed to cost $90, but the board cut the increase to $86 from the previous $75.

If there are any surprises next Tuesday when the board votes on the full budget, it might be on the O'Hare fare increase. Perhaps they will find a way to allow workers at O'Hare to continue to pay the base $2.25 fare, and just stick it to tourists and businesspeople for $5.

Read the Tribune coverage of the hearing Monday.


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  • Apparently Sept.4 is Nov. now.

    And I mentioned before, the way for employees to avoid the full fare increase is to buy a 7 day pass. A "customer assistant" isn't going to be checking for company ID.

    Staff isn't going to give the puppets an amended budget in one week. There is not going to be a November surprise in December.

  • Thanks for the correction.

  • I still don't understand how cutting bus lines will de-crowd the trains. It's rather like destroying the village to save the village.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    The incompetents & loons that run the CTA have this insane idea that cutting a few routes with low ridership will let them move buses over to other routes so they can increase service on them.
    In the short term, this might show some promise. But long term, people will adjust how they ride & some who can afford it will just abandon the CTA for cars. After a while, they'll cut back service on the routes they've added it to.
    But they also foolishly refuse to return buses to Elston & Clybourn, despite the changes in the last 15 years that have turn both streets into major shopping areas.
    As for the rail de-crowding plan, it appears solely to allow the rottenly interior designed 5000 cars to be able to run without people being crushed to death due to the fact that about 25% of the seats are essentially unusable, which any sane person will tell them, but their cognitive dissonance prevents them from understanding.
    When I've been on them in the past few weeks, people do anything to prevent someone from sitting next to them. They put all their belongings on the adjacent seat or they sit sideways on the seat. They don't want to be crushed between a wide person & the stanchion.
    And it's not just fat people, most women's hips are wider than each seat & so are their shoulders.

  • Cheryl, it's my understanding the CTA had to make some cuts to pay for the added service. The whole decrowding package is budget neutral.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Looking at the "advance schedules," some have come to the conclusion that cutting the bus routes had very little to do with that.

    With regard to "paying for additional L service," it appears that the source of funding was turning back half of the Blue Line trains at UIC on weekends.

    Also, most of the bus lines don't have increased service. For instance, the 146 advance schedule indicates that they just folded in 145 trips between Randolph and Grace. All that accomplishes is reversing what they did in about 2004 to silence the old ladies who said when 146 was the only route between Belmont and Irving Park that "we lost one of our two routes."

    There are two things that are obvious here:

    (1) Pace---not CTA--explained how there actually was coordination, and how people in Chicago on the overlapping routes were going to be served by Pace, including increased service on 349 and one more trip on 270.

    (2) There is some underlying reason, independent of supposedly putting service elsewhere, why CTA does not want to serve Wilson, middle Lincoln, and Illinois Center. As others pointed out, the L overlap rationale would mean that 56 could be cut, and, in fact, 4 covers what's left of 1. But the autocrats at CTA won't tell anyone. Compare that to what I said about Pace, above.

  • In reply to jack:

    I think part of that underlying reason is that the city needs the old bus stops from the cut #11 route for a few of their new food truck stands.

  • What added service?

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    As I indicated above, one would have to compare the advance schedules with the current ones. There might be something hidden in the "every 3 to 7 minutes" blocks, but basically I agree with you that "added service" is not evident, except the 111/115 split.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Cheryl, this is copied from the CTA decrowding page. And this presentation lists all the changes.

    The plan adds service to 48 bus routes across the city. It will also add 17 rail trips to the Red, Blue, Brown, Purple, Orange and Green lines during weekday rush periods to ease crowding on trains. The Red, Brown and Blue Lines will also see significant increases in weekend service.

    The plan also discontinues service on 12 duplicative or low ridership routes as well as service on four bus route segments, though not eliminating those entire routes.

    Additionally, the plan calls for CTA to renegotiate contracts with private parties for subsidized bus services on nine routes--specialized routes CTA would not otherwise offer based on demand.

    Ridership on the bus and rail routes receiving additional service represents more than 75 percent of CTA’s average daily ridership. Ridership on the discontinued routes and route segments, excluding the nine contracted routes, represents less than 2 percent of CTA’s daily customers.

    In every case of discontinuation, another transit option is available on a nearby rail line or our bus grid system within a reasonable walking distance—in many cases no more than a few blocks. In addition, CTA also coordinated these changes closely with Pace to reduce duplication of service between CTA and Pace where appropriate.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    But, as I indicated with respect to 146, the "additional service" is an illusion--just a renumbering of routes.

    As far as the presentation, someone pointed out on chicagobus.org that the number of buses would have to be increased to before the 2010 cuts to bring back service to the extent to meet the "per bus" passenger load goal. There is no indication that anything such was done.

    However, there are indications that they did do stuff not related to decrowding, like adding a late evening trip to J14.

    So, I suppose that Cheryl could have read the obfuscation herself.

  • I have examined the a few of the before and after schedules for a few bus lines, namely the severely overcrowded 147 (thanks to the Red line being so freaking slow), 92 and 36. From what I can tell none of these routes have any substantial service enhancements, which actually does make sense. If you cut service from a small number of routes and spread them out over 48 bus routes, you end up with a bunch of very small enhancements that don't add up to much on any single line! Probably not enough that any noticeable change will occur. Certainly don't get your hopes up that your overcrowded bus line will soon have seats available.

    I also agree that removing service from a busy main commercial street such as Lincoln is an enormous mistake. Say you're at Lincoln and Belmont running errands, shopping, etc and your next stop is at Lincoln and Montrose, according to the CTA its a snap to walk over to the Brown line, ride to Montrose and then walk BACK three blocks to Lincoln. Instead of staying on Lincoln, catching the bus and going directly up the street. Who are these fools running the CTA? Ok fine...using their logic cut the 56 and while we are at it cut the 151 North of Irving and the 36 North of Wilson because they parallel the Red line, sometimes only a block or two away for a few miles of their route! The L is essentially an express service while the paralleling buses are local service. They each serve a very different purpose. It seems the CTA is headed in the direction of it's only role with public transportation in this city is getting downtown workers to/from the Loop mostly during weekday rush hours.

  • While I haven't looked at all the bus lines, I did look at the one that I use the most now which is the 152 Addison bus. The bus gets very crowded during rush due to workers plus the 3 high schools on the route. They did add buses during the rush and increased the intervals with which they run, at least on M-F when I ride it.

    It's interesting what Jack said about the Blue Line trains and and turning around at UIC. I've been noticing that some of my trains in the morning say their last stop is UIC the last few weeks. I don't recall them doing that over the summer. So perhaps part of that plan is already in effect.

  • In reply to chris:

    The existing Blue Line schedule effective Apr. 22, 2012 has one out of 3 or 4 trains turning back between 7:12 a.m. and 9:23 a.m., and 1 out 3 starting at UIC between 7:30 and 9:41.

    On routes with school trips, it is hard to see what they do, because the schedules always say "Additional service may be provided on school days, September through June." Then, of course, here they throw in a couple of school trips as 154, and change an 11-19 minute block to 12 to 18 with different boundaries, thereby further confusing the issue.

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