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CTA Rush Hour Could Become Even More Awful Thanks To CPS Cuts

By Selena Fragassi in News on Jul 28, 2015 6:15PM

Photo credit: Justin Carlson

Our crowded rush hour trains and buses are about to get … more crowded. With children.

Now that Chicago Public Schools are throwing students into the good ole 9 to 5 by pushing back class schedules from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 60 high schools and 17 elementary schools starting this fall, the demand for the CTA will be at a premium at its most congested hours.

And it looks like the students are the ones most concerned about it. An enrollee at Walter Payton College Prep has started an online petition asking for CPS to revert to the original bell schedule, citing that the nearly 90,000 affected young riders “will be caught in the center of rush hour, risking the well-roundedness and safety of students involved in long commutes and extracurricular activities.”

The petition had received 483 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon and 126 comments from supporters.

“CPS did not consider families who have children in multiple schools across the city. How is it possible to coordinate various pickup times/CTA travel times and with the added factor of rush hour? RAHM AND CPS: you sicken me!!! The students' safety means nothing to those talking heads,” said a user named Zee.

Another named Lisa added, “The school end time is far too late for these students' physical safety, any semblance of family life and study/activity schedules. These are city kids, many of whom take at least an hour to travel home. Unfair and sad if this doesn't change.”

The move to change school schedules was prompted by CPS budget talks and will save the district an alleged $9 million by allowing them to stack high school and elementary school bus routes at the same time. This comes on the heels of CPS also announcing that select enrollment and magnet schools will also slash their provided bus routes in half for the new school year, for a $2.3 million in savings, which could mean some students will have to walk up to 1.5 miles to school. The strategy has been harshly criticized for its inconsideration of student safety. Schools officials havesyet to comment on either story, but as far as the CTA is concerned, spokeswoman Tammy Chase told DNAinfo, “We don’t foresee any issues” with the proposed changes.

"Our service planning department is now in the process of obtaining the changes to develop the bus schedules to meet the school schedules, and that will reflect later dismissal times and students' after school activities," she continued stating that CTA’s number-one goal is to provide safe and reliable transit for students. "Once the school year begins and we can see travel patterns in real time, we would make additional service schedule adjustments if and as needed — which is standard practice for us whenever we make schedule changes."