UPTOWN — Next week looks like the end of the road for two bus routes that many Uptown commuters rely on for transportation downtown.
The No. 145 Wilson/Michigan Express and No. 144 Marine/Michigan Express are two of the dozen routes scheduled for extinction come Sunday, to help pay for CTA's $16 million plan to reduce crowding. That plan includes adding service to 48 bus routes and six rail routes used by 76 percent of CTA's riders during peak periods on weekdays.
The rerouting of the No. 148 Clarendon/Michigan Express off Wilson Avenue eliminates yet another downtown travel option for Uptown commuters.
Of all the changes coming, Uptown residents — and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) — said they are most peeved about the No. 145's pending demise. Residents complained that losing the No. 145 will lengthen their commutes and inconvenience those who live west of the lakefront.
Uptown resident Christopher Warren said the CTA decision puzzles him.
"That's one of the most important buses from the North Side to downtown. It confuses me why they would close that bus down," he said.
Cappleman said he sympathizes with his constituents, but he wasn't able to stop the route cuts.
He had "many, many, many, many conversations with CTA," including one last week" where he heard "the same thing" he's heard every time: "That the decision is already made, that the decision is not going to change — that I can advocate all I want," Cappleman said.
Other aldermen, including Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) said they have complained to CTA about routes being eliminated in their neighborhoods to no avail.
"I believe there's a perception that if they give in to one alderman that they have to give in to the other aldermen. So they're not giving in to any of us," Cappleman said. "Have we been yelling and screaming? We sure have. I can rant and rave just like everyone else, but I don't have the authority to stop them."
Wilson Avenue runs east and west through the heart of Uptown, and is a much-traveled path come weekday mornings when commuters fill the streets. Their public transit options for getting downtown typically include taking a bus eastbound and transferring to the Red Line near Wilson and Broadway, or staying on the No. 145 all the way there.
The eastbound No. 78 Montrose bus travels a few blocks on Wilson Avenue, past the train and toward the lake, and the westbound bus stops at a Brown Line L station.
The No. 78, however, does not go downtown. The No. 146 runs through Uptown along the lakefront. But getting to it can be a hassle for commuters who live west of there, residents said.
People in nearby Ravenswood also would be affected by CTA changes. Ravenswood resident Barbara Wiss catches the No. 145 just west of Uptown at Wilson and Paulina avenues most mornings. She said it is about a five-minute walk from where she lives.
Wiss is pessimistic about how the route's discontinuance will affect her commute.
"It's definitely going to reduce the convenience, because I have been relying on the 145 bus to get me where I need to go more quickly," said Wiss, a manager at a nonprofit organization at Chicago and Michigan avenues. "I see this as probably increasing my commuting time, having to rely on other routes to get downtown."