CTA cuts late-night service on #151 Sheridan bus

DCIM100SPORTAnother bus bites the dust - well, at least overnight service will stop March 31 on the popular #151 Sheridan. Starting on Sunday, the last northbound overnight trip will leave Union Station at 1:25 a.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, and 1 a.m. on Sundays and holidays. The first southbound trip will leave Clark/Devon at 4 a.m. on weekdays and 4:30 a.m. on weekends.

Citing low ridership overnight, the CTA is urging riders to use the Red Line or #22 Clark bus instead. But some riders took issue with that alternative.

"As you know the 151, north of North Ave, pretty much runs as close to the lake as possible with out getting on LSD," a CTA Tattler reader named James wrote to me in an email.  "It is not until it gets north of Addison that it starts to travel slightly west as it continues north.  In contrast, the #22 pretty much follows Clark Ave.  Clark Avenue has been the scene of many assaults during the late night hours.  With the #151 night owl service being discontinued, I fear the number of assaults will rise for people who are now forced to take it."

Update: As commenter Jack notes below, the CTA has listed some other service changes set to go into effect on March 31 and April 1. Routes affected are #88, #52, #169, #X98, #85A, #54A, #48, and #33.

Online petition opposes Ventra card. A frequent CTA rider has begun an online petition opposing the Ventra card, decrying fees for single-use rail fares, and for the non-mandatory debit card that could be activated by riders. As Tribune columnist Jon Hilkevitch noted in his story about the petition, Ankit Patel, who created the petition, said, "At the end of the day, this deal, like every other Chicago deal, will go through. But the least we can do is express our disappointment."

At this time of this posting, the petition had about 500 signatories.

Update: The Tribune reports today that the CTA has dropped the $2.95 charge to load the Ventra Debit card with a credit card, and the $10-per-hour charge for "account research" to resolve billing discrepancies.

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  • Someone noted the notices on the 151 sign on chicagobus.org, which was a departure from someone saying they had secret information.

    Someone else noted the "Upcoming" tab on the "Bus Alerts" page, showing all sorts of changes effective March 31. Why these aren't now "Current Alerts" is beyond me, but they do show some trimming of service hours on 48, 54A, 85A, and 88. Also, the north end of 52 is being changed because CTA apparently lost the right to use the turnaround on private property off California north of Roscoe.

    Finally, the notices show that even though the CT Board approved contracts for X98 and 169, the trips are being scaled back, and in the case of X98, only one trip at 10:40 p.m., apparently because Pace 208 doesn't run that late. Thus, the private entities were not willing to pay all that CTA demanded. 33 is cancelled, so Metra wasn't willing to continue subsidizing that at all. Thus, the only thing still in doubt is whether the Museum of Science and Industry will pay for 10.

  • But as for "the number of people now forced to take it," apparently there weren't that many for CTA to cut 3 hours of service on 151.

  • I'd like to know what city "Clark Avenue" is in.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    According to Google Maps, North Chicago, IL. I don't think 563 runs at night. ;-)

    Anyway, Kevin was just quoting some rider of the East Sheridan Street bus.

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    In reply to jack:

    That's when you bracket [Street] in the quote.

  • And no public hearings? smh

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    49 USC 5307 requires them only for major reductions, so this must not have been considered major.

    However, given the nature of the hearings on the "Crow Reduction Plan" and "Ventra fare increase," would it have made any difference?

  • On the Ventra update, the account research fee is egregious, but the part one could only expect of CTA is that it wasn't waived by MetaBank (not the CTA) because of last's week's outcry, but "Ventra's online reload fee and the account research fee were deleted from the program sometime last year, well before CTA revenue director Eric Reese told the Tribune last week that they still were active, CTA spokesman Brian Steele said Monday." In short, CTA staff again didn't know what was happening. Yet the flacks' view is that the public needs to be educated.

    As far as a fee for reloading from a credit card, I still contend that if you have a credit card, you don't need a debit card.

  • In reply to jack:

    At least not a prepaid one.

    It was not indicated that is fee was to be assessed to reload the "transit account."

  • In the Tribune article, I don't understand what the big deal about the ATM fee is. If you don't have a bank, I think every card is going to charge you to use the ATM. The amount doesn't seem too high to me.

  • In reply to chris:

    The difference might be whether the card is honored on an ATM network associated with the bank, at which point there wouldn't be an ATM fee. For instance, there isn't an ATM fee if you use a Liquid card at any Chase ATM. The Walmart-GE Capital Bank card promotion says "No ATM withdrawal fee at thousands of MoneyPass® ATMs nationwide." So, the question is whether MetaBank has a similar arrangement.

    But you set me off in two other directions:

    1. I suppose anyone with $50 or $100 can open a checking account and get a free debit card associated with it. But those who do not have enough on deposit to get fees waived are going to pay the fees associated with the checking account.

    2. In connection with my previous comment on reloading a debit card with a credit card--who in their right mind is going to do that? Someone is going to pay 25% interest on a credit card for the cash advance? Even if it is a purchase, there is still interest unless one pays off the credit card each month, in which case, the person does not need a prepaid debit card, especially to make purchases.

  • In reply to jack:

    "2. In connection with my previous comment on reloading a debit card with a credit card--who in their right mind is going to do that? "

    If it turns out that the reloads will count as purchases, once the take-no-prisoners crowd over at flyertalk finds out about this, they will drive this into the ground just like they killed the US Mint's dollar coin purchase program. Count on it.

  • In reply to VernaB:

    I'm not sure where you are going with this, except that the U.S. Government advertises that if you pay the IRS using a credit card, including paying a convenience fee, you might get travel points from Alec Baldwin or 5% back from Discover.

  • In reply to chris:

    No, this isn't true. The ATM fee charged at the ATM is the fee paid to the owner of the ATM. This is a fee paid to your bank. Thus when withdrawing cash with this card, you will most often pay two fees (one to the bank running the ATM and one to Ventra).

  • The loss of the N151 really irks me! The fact they did this very quietly makes it even worse. There are at least a handful of summer nights that I take this bus home and happily save the $ on taxi rides. The Red Line and Clark bus are not a valid substitute, say for example if you're going from Sheridan and Belmont to Sheridan and Foster. Due to the long service frequencies late night, taking multiple buses or the Red line and a bus can easily add an hour to the journey time that it would take during daytime hours. Again it seems the CTA uses the same logic as they did with the #11 cancellation. "Oh the L takes same general route as this bus, just let them take the L!" Yea, maybe so, but the 151 in some places runs up to 1 1/2 to 2 miles away from the Red line. Also, the N151 was a good alternate when there was a problem on the Red line and service was suspended.

    Give it 5 years...I make a bet we will have ZERO owl service because the CTA views itself as catering to downtown weekday rush-hour commuters.

  • In reply to Matt:

    In most smaller transit districts (such as Pace, except when UPS pays them to run the 3 a.m. bus), there isn't any owl. In most cases, night shift workers have to be at work by 12 a.m. and get out at 7 or 8, and third shift workers get out before 1 a.m.

    So, it doesn't need to be restricted to downtown commuters, but the question is whether the owl buses are being used by "recreational commuters," to coin a phrase, and if there are enough to sustain the service, or as you imply above, most of those who would be affected are already taking a cab.

  • I'm assuming this is part of the 'decrowding the trains by making more people use them' approach.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    So how crowded are the trains at 2 a.m.? At least with paying passengers?

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I'm fearing the CTA is going back to the "decrowding the whole system by driving people away from it" approach.

    Sad to see other cities expanding the reach and accessibility of their transit service while we go backward.

  • I posted this on the other thread, but perhaps I'd better bring it up here. Still no clue offered about the $2 "opt out customer service transaction" fee, though it's one that remains.

    Would Mr. Claypool care to explain what this fee is and how a customer might be able to avoid it?

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    CC: I'm not sure what fee this is you are talking about. The only customer service fee I know of is the one they dropped - the $10 per hour charge for account research.

  • It's right there on the list of remaining fees in the graphic to the Hilkevitch story. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-0326-ventra-debit-deal-gfc-eps-20130325,0,2655855.graphic

    The fees still listed are for, and I quote:

    Ordering a replacement card
    Expedited shipping (overnight)
    Balance refund check
    Mailed transaction history or statement
    Operator-assisted phone inquiries
    Opt-out customer service transaction.

    I repeat, the last is a classic weasel or gotcha. Can you figure out what it's for? Would you know how to avoid incurring it? Maybe they know what they mean by it, but it would cost us $2 just to call them and ask.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    That also shows up on Arizona State University's debit card agreement with MetaBank. No explanation there either (some charges have footnotes, but that one doesn't).

    Seems to be the only hit on Google.

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    Clark STREET.

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