BRIDGEPORT — A new photo petition campaign is underway to show transit leaders how the restoration of the CTA 31st Street bus will have an impact on local life.
Rather than have supporters sign a sheet of paper, activists are asking residents to drop by various locations along the 31st Street corridor to have their photograph taken clutching signs depicting where they'd travel along the route, say, to church, the 31st Street Beach, the grocery store or the downtown museum campus.
"Of course I'd use it. There's lots of good reasons for it but I think it would be really beneficial for the elderly," said Greg Hancen, 38, of Bridgeport, shortly after having his picture snapped at First Lutheran Church of the Trinity, 643 W. 31st St.
The CTA axed the original 31st Street bus in 1997 after declines in ridership, but the transit agency is testing an extension of the No. 35 bus to 31st Street between Kedzie and Cicero avenues in Little Village after pressure from community groups.
The CTA has said restoring and operating the route would cost $3 million.
The Rev. Tom Gaulke, a leader with the grassroots activist group Bridgeport Alliance and pastor at First Lutheran Church of the Trinity, has said the effort to restore the bus has taken on a new meaning.
"Digging deeper, we started to see how [the removal of the original 31st Street bus] divided communities by race and class. There's a justice piece to this, too. It's not simply wanting a bus," he said.
The entirety of the photo project will be put on display soon, likely where it could be seen by local politicians.
The restoration of the service has the backing of elected officials at virtually every level of government on the South Side, including Ald. James Balcer (11th), Cook County Commissioner John Daley, state Rep. Esther Golar (D-Chicago), State Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) and U.S. Rep Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs), who serves on the House Transportation Committee.
In addition to the photo project, a new @31sStreetBus Twitter handle was created last week by resident Joe Trutin. That's in addition to the Facebook page Trutin created, where he posts transit-related news.