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Seniors Express Concern About Bus Service Cuts at Town Hall Meeting

By Patty Wetli | October 15, 2012 3:41pm | Updated on November 19, 2012 2:51pm
 Senior citizens from the 47th Ward attend Alderman Ameya Pawar's budget town hall meeting Monday.
Senior citizens from the 47th Ward attend Alderman Ameya Pawar's budget town hall meeting Monday.
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dnainfo/Patty Wetli

NORTH CENTER — Seniors pushed Alderman Ameya Pawar to restore a crucial bus route that was shut down earlier this year, saying they depend on the service to get around.

In September, the CTA board voted to discontinue the Western-to-Fullerton leg of the #11 Lincoln Avenue bus, calling the service redundant because of nearby Brown Line rail stops.

But seniors at the North Center Senior Campus want to see the bus come back.

"It's a tragedy," said Liza Martin, director of the North Center Satellite Senior Center. Despite collecting thousands of signatures and bombarding the CTA with emails and phone calls to save the bus route, she has little to show for her efforts.

"Nobody's listening," she said.

A number of Senior Campus residents rely on the #11 to access shopping, restaurants and other activities along Lincoln Avenue, they said.

"A lot of people depend on public transportation," said Victor Alvarez, who has lived at Martha Washington, a 104-unit rental complex, for six years. Many of his neighbors don't own a car, he added.

"I called [CTA president] Forrest Claypool; we've lobbied the board members," replied Pawar, who argued that the CTA focused on commuters who ride the rails downtown.

By calling the #11 redundant, the CTA assumed the "Brown Line gets you to where you need to go," Pawar said. "Transit serves neighborhoods, not just downtown," he added. "If we had a different group of people riding that bus, we'd have a different result."

Residents also told the alderman that they were concerned about the possible closure of as many as 100 schools.

Pawar acknowledged a "a major population decline in the last 10 years" but said he was concerned by "this idea that we're going straight to charter schools."

Along with 31 other aldermen, he recently signed a resolution calling for greater transparency from CPS regarding potential school closings.

"For me, it's problematic privatizing public schools," Pawar said. "I don't know when charter schools became synonymous with education reform."