BRIDGEPORT — The 31st Street bus is coming back, marking a major victory for community groups that have fought for its return for years.
CTA President Dorval Carter made the announcement at Wednesday's meeting of the agency's board.
“I am happy to announce that the CTA 31 and CTA 11 buses will be reinstated through a Pilot Bus Program,” the announcement read. “This could not have been possible without the longtime commitment and support of the CTA 31/11 Bus Coalition members.”
The reinstatement was cheered by groups like the Bridgeport Alliance, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community and Crosstown Bus Coalition, which have fought the CTA to bring back the bus routes.
"Everyone is so excited for the win," said Tom Gaulke, pastor at First Lutheran Church of the Trinity and Bridgeport Alliance member. "We are grateful to have so many persistent and tenacious community members who stand up for their own needs for public access, and we are quite pleased that our new alderman, Patrick Thompson, stepped up to this challenge."
Rubio Pinto, chairman of the Bridgeport Alliance, said the return of the 31st Street bus will help neighborhood folks.
“I’m just so excited to to finally have this bus reinstated," Pinto said. "It will greatly enhance the lives of the people in our community, especially, those who are economically vulnerable, the poor and new immigrants."
And local residents can't wait to see the bus rolling through the neighborhood again: “It’s good to have the 31st Street running again," said Ben Huey, 62. "We won! What a great birthday present — my birthday was Monday."
The CTA axed the 31st Street route in 1997 because of low ridership, and neighborhood activists have fought for its reinstatement ever since.
At a public meeting at City Hall in April, CTA bosses said ridership surveys showed there wasn't enough need to bring back the 31st Street bus.
But in 2012, the CTA restored part of the route as part of a 180-day test program and extension of the No. 35 bus to 31st Street west of Kedzie Avenue to Cicero Avenue in Little Village.
During the first four months of the test, the CTA said, ridership was up — with an average of 570 rides on weekdays, 386 on Saturdays and 271 on Sundays — but the numbers were still short of its projections.
More details on the pilot programs will be released in the near future, according to Thompson's office.
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