The CTA’s plan to reduce crowding on the most jammed-up bus and rail lines looks great on paper.
But of course, the devil is in the details — and the execution. The CTA just released much of the details this afternoon. See the accompanying post for details. How the CTA executes on the plan won’t be known until after Dec. 16, when they are scheduled to go into effect.
The expanded service and bus route changes/eliminations also are subject to board approval Sept. 12. That should be a no-brainer. A public hearing is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 4 at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St.
The bus routes to be eliminated either “duplicate existing service,” says the news release, or have low ridership. Low ridership also factors into the decision, and those figures are readily available. For routes that are privately contracted for, such as the #10 Museum of Science & Industry, the CTA says it will renegotiate the subsidy or cut them.
Of course, those reasons probably won’t ameliorate the mood or feelings today of riders directly affected by the route eliminations.
But here’s the bottom line: The CTA is a publicly funded transit agency with limited dollars that must serve the most people it can as efficiently as possible.
- The CTA cut bus service by 18 percent and rail service by 9 percent to balance its budget in February 2010.
- In the first half of 2012, rail ridership increased 6.2 percent; bus ridership by 2.6 percent. The CTA says that’s “higher than nearly every other major U.S. Transit system.”
So something had to give. (Good thing it wasn’t an overcrowded #79 79th Street bus!)
The CTA worked with the well-respected Northwestern University Transportation Center to do the background analysis, so that’s a good thing.
As for whether the CTA can execute this plan: It still has two major road blocks:
- Bus bunching
- Rail slow zones
Slow zones cover 14.1 percent of track overall, and almost 23 percent of the busiest rail line, the Red Line. All it would take is a door problem on one train to slow the whole system down enough for the CTA to issue an alert, as it did last night at about 6 p.m.
For me, I like the plan. Check back in mid-January for a report how CTA executes the plan.