CHICAGO — Backers of a proposed new bus route along 31st Street say the CTA's test run of the course is leaving would-be riders stranded.
The original 31st Street routes, which cut through Little Village, McKinley Park, Armour Square, Bridgeport and Bronzeville, were axed in 1997 after a decline in ridership. But transit leaders have renewed their interest in bringing it back, citing a population increase in the area.
Instead of resurrecting the route — which would now take riders from Cicero Avenue to the lakefront and up to the museum campus — the CTA in September kicked off a 180-day test run of an extension of the No. 35 bus to 31st Street between Kedzie and Cicero avenues in Little Village.
South Side community activists such as Joe Trutin, a McKinley Park business owner who made the 31st Street bus proposal part of his failed 2010 bid for 2nd District state representative, said the extension was not enough.
He said the CTA’s choice to use that stretch for the test run will doom any chances of adding a new route along 31st Street.
“We kind of warned them that this was the worst part of the whole route because it has the least amount of riders,” he said.
Ridership figures on the 31st Street extension weren't immediately available, but data on the CTA's website show steady increases in ridership on the entire 35th Street route.
Over in Little Village, the only site of the test route actually located on 31st Street, community organizer Claudia Alay said she’s happy transit officials are finally paying attention to her neighborhood.
It’s not perfect, she said. The extension route stops running at 8 p.m., which is too early for night-shift workers looking for a lift home. And she thinks ridership might be low.
“The way I put is that even though it’s one small step, it’s a giant step to us in forming equality to access to transportation,” she said.