Pawar Offers To Use Surplus TIF Funds To Save Lincoln Avenue Bus Route

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 7, 2012 10:30PM

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The #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick route would become the #11 Lincoln under CTA's de-crowding plan. (Photo credit: Bart Heird

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) told the Sun-Times he would be willing to use surplus tax increment funds to keep the Lincoln Avenue bus rolling between Fullerton and Western Avenues, which would allow the seniors who rely on the bus the most to continue to use it instead of schlepping to the nearest Brown Line train station.

Pawar said that, contrary to CTA President Forrest Claypool’s claim eliminating the route would be beneficial for CTA riders, it would place the people who need it the most at risk of being shut-ins.

“[CTA President Forrest] Claypool talked about para-transit and how, if it continues to rise, it’s gonna impact other CTA services. Well, cutting this bus will exacerbate para-transit ridership at much greater cost because there are no other options. This bus is a lifeline for people in my community.”

Claypool has defended cutting the Lincoln Avenue route, part of CTA’s “de-crowding” plan, by noting the Lincoln Avenue bus runs through “one of the most transit-rich areas of the city.” We’ve yet to find a mathematical formula to show how eliminating bus service to the most populous section of its route is an addition. Last week Pawar said eliminating the route "flies in the face" of Claypool's claims.

Part of the disconnect between CTA and its riders who rely on the Lincoln Avenue bus is that the de-crowding plan is feasible for younger riders and people in good health. For seniors and riders with disabilities, losing the Lincoln Avenue bus is one hell of an imposition.

Liza Martin, director of the North Center Senior Satellite Campus, told the Sun-Times the de-crowding plan will effectively isolate seniors.

“They live near the Brown Line. But, it doesn’t go to the Jewel or to the library. They’ll have to walk four or five blocks instead of having the bus stop right in front of the door. A lot of people can’t walk four or five blocks. It’s a travesty to [cut] this bus line. We’re pleading with them to please listen to us and not to be so arrogant and disrespect us.”

All that said, Pawar’s proposal smacks a lot of “too little, too late” about it. While it’s noble and novel to offer the surplus TIF funds to keep the route in place, it isn’t that simple. Making it happen would require legislation and the requirement to mete out other shares from the fund to schools and other taxing districts. Pawar, has $1.5 million in TIF funds at his discretion and, after other taxing districts get their share of the pie, it’s uncertain how much would remain to fund the route.

The time to have been pro-active on saving the route was before CTA announced the de-crowding plan, not while they were steamrolling the plan through. Still Pawar plans on showing up at Monday's budget hearing at CTA headquarters with busloads of residents from Lincoln Square, Roscoe Village and North Center to make their collective case heard. To reserve a spot on a bus leaving from the North Center Senior Satellite Center (4040 N. Oakley) call Liza Martin at 773-520-8015. To reserve a spot on a bus leaving from Golden Apple (2971 N. Lincoln), please call Nick Alex at 847-219-2153.

The Petition to Save the Lincoln Avenue bus is still online and have more than doubled its goal of 1,000 signatures.