LINCOLN PARK — Two years after the CTA cut the No. 11 bus line, which ran diagonally through Lincoln Park's grid, neighborhood residents and businesses continue to fight for its return.
Many neighborhood residents joined in a solidarity movement to bring the bus back at a CTA budget hearing last week where more than 50 audience members sported yellow "Bring Back #11 Bus" t-shirts.
The transit authority's decision to cut a portion of the bus route that connected the neighborhood with Lincoln Square to the north all the way to the Fullerton Avenue had a negative effect on many businesses and lives in the neighborhood, critics say.
That group includes seniors who relied on the No. 11 to get around, those without cars and residents of other neighborhoods who shop in Lincoln Park.
"It's certainly another piece of the puzzle forcing businesses to work harder to attract the same number of customers they achieved two years ago,” said Padraic Swanton, director of communications and marketing for the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce.
The cut came at a time when much of the Lincoln Avenue business community was starting to struggle following the closing of Children's Memorial Hospital. The hospital was a major driver of business to the neighborhood, with its 4,300 employees and 1.5 million visitors a year.
Swanton also argues the bus should return because of an upcoming influx of development in the area.
"It's just going back on progressive type policy that encourages alternative modes of transportation," Swanton said. "The biggest stigma our neighborhood has is traffic and parking."
At the CTA meeting, Lincoln Park resident Laura Meyer said that restoring the bus cuts would be "one of the cheapest ways to improve economic activity in an area," describing it "like blood — it moves people and money around."
Meyer, 50, said she moved 15 years ago from Europe specifically to the area because of the abundant public transit options.
“There are many people who chose to live long term in Chicago and one way they can remain independent whether they are sick or elderly and feel safe in this community and still pay taxes is having independence through public transportation," she said.
Many at the CTA budget hearing called the route a "lifeline" and said the decision to remove it, which saved the transit authority $1.4 million a year.
The proposed 2015 balanced budget of $1.4 billion does not include fare hikes for the second straight year.
CTA has argued the route is redundant, as the area is also served by the Brown Line "L" train.
"We had a good circulating system," said Lincoln Square resident F.K. Plous of the Western-to-Fullerton leg. "You could get on and off that bus and patronize businesses. Today, when these neighborhoods are becoming more robust, we need neighborhood circulation."
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