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The Calls To Restore The Lincoln Avenue Bus Aren't Going Away

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 18, 2014 9:30PM

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

For the second time in as many years, Chicago Transit Authority’s sole public hearing on its proposed 2015 budget Monday night was marked with dozens of riders calling for a full restoration of the No. 11 Lincoln Avenue bus route. And for the second time in as many years, CTA’s board threw shade customers’ way.

Between 75-100 people, including Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) and state Rep. Greg Harris, took to the microphone to ask, if not demand, restoration of the route from Fullerton Avenue to Western Avenue. One by one, riders recounted their struggles trying to find alternative transit routes along Lincoln Avenue (read: the Brown Line) to shop, run errands, get to work or meet people at Lincoln Avenue restaurants and watering holes. Jack Lydon, a Democratic Ward Committeeman in the 47th Ward, told CTA President Forrest Claypool, CTA Board chairman Terry Peterson and the board’s members he and others would not rest until service was eventually restored. “We're not going away,” he warned.

Lincoln Square resident Krista Kempe said she’s taken to walking the seven blocks from her home to her job as a nanny in North Center since CTA gutted the route and still has problems doing basic tasks like grocery shopping without it. “It's really cold, and I just wish I had my bus back.”

Pawar testified eliminating the Lincoln Avenue bus between Fullerton and Western has had a severe impact on seniors.

“We are all going to get old one day, and we all want to believe that the system we paid into will serve all of us, not just the people the current leadership wants to serve,” Pawar said. “This is a public sector agency. It has to serve everybody.”

CTA’s $1.4 billion 2015 budget is expected to be approved. It does call for no fare hikes and adds train service on all lines, but residents affected by the loss of the Lincoln Avenue bus between Lincoln Park and Lincoln Square have consistently voiced their complaints and protested at CTA board meetings since the transit agency decided to eliminate the route two years ago.

CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase told RedEye the agency believes there are several alternatives in place besides the Brown Line and noted 10 bus routes near where the Lincoln Avenue bus would have run. The Lincoln Avenue bus still runs from Western Avenue to Skokie, while a separate route on Sedgwick handles the route south of the Fullerton "L" station. Those routes ferry a combined 3,152 weekday riders to their destinations; the old No. 11 route averaged 5,489 rides on an average weekday.