LINCOLN SQUARE — It's been nearly two years since the Chicago Transit Authority axed the No. 11 Lincoln Avenue bus.
But just because the route's gone, doesn't mean it's been forgotten.
"We never really stopped advocating for the return of the bus," said Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), who's launching a campaign to bring back the No. 11.
Patty Wetli says that residents and neighborhood leaders are hoping to put pressure on the CTA:
In September 2012, the CTA board voted to discontinue the Western-to-Fullerton leg of the No. 11 Lincoln Avenue bus as part of a crowding reduction plan across the bus and rail network. Hundreds of residents packed a CTA board meeting in December of that same year to plead for service restoration, a request that was denied.
"That portion of the No. 11 route is already served by the nearby Brown Line — which received additional service as part of the crowding reduction plan — and 14 east-west and north-south bus routes, several of which also received additional service," Lambrini Lukidis, CTA spokeswoman, told DNAinfo Chicago via email.
Pawar said he still isn't satisfied with CTA's justification for discontinuing the portion of the route that ran through Lincoln Square, North Center and Lakeview.
His frustration with the CTA's decision only increased, he said, when the agency announced that as part of its bus rapid transit plan for Ashland Avenue, it would retain the regular Ashland bus in the spirit of redundancy.
"I almost blew my top," he said. "Redundancy was the excuse they used to eliminate the [Lincoln Avenue] bus. It's so inconsistent, it doesn't make any sense."
Pawar is now determined to get the CTA to change its mind.
He's prepping an online survey that's expected to go live this week or next — having already introduced the questionnaire to residents of the Northcenter Senior Satellite Center — with the poll being used to gauge how people have been affected by the loss of the bus.
His office will also deploy volunteer street teams to gather stories from business owners and individuals regarding the service cuts. Residents who want to share stories can also email his office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I think it's important for CTA to recognize the impact. A lot of people can't get around the neighborhood anymore," Pawar said. "People were connected to their neighborhood, and now they can't get to and from the grocery store or the library or our office."
CTA countered that rail ridership on the Brown Line has increased at each station between Fullerton and Western year over year, "suggesting that riders have found a convenient transportation alternative within close proximity," according to Lukidis.
Published weekly ridership reports by rail station show that ridership actually decreased at a number of the affected stations in 2013 or showed minimal growth, but all stations between Fullerton and Western have indeed notched significant growth in 2014, at least through March, the most recent month for which statistics are available.
"We have no plans to make any additional changes to the service that is currently in place and believe the public is well served by the extensive rail and bus options nearby," Lukidis said.
The alderman acknowledged his "bring back the bus" campaign is a long shot.
"We understand the odds may not be in our favor," Pawar said. "This is probably a one- to two-year effort. We've just got to keep the pressure up."
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