LINCOLN SQUARE — The celebration over the return of the No. 11 and No. 31 buses was short lived when the Chicago Transit Authority announced service hours for the routes last week, prompting supporters to cry foul.
During their respective six-month pilots, both buses will run weekdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The lack of weekend or morning rush-hour service struck many as a half-hearted effort from the transit agency.
“It looks like it’s set up to fail,” said Tom Gaulke, a member of the grassroots organization that rallied to restore the No. 31 route.
Gaulke's comments were echoed by his North Side counterparts, who took to Facebook to call the No. 11 Lincoln bus's hours "completely useless" for commuters.
"If only I didn't have to be anywhere before 10 a.m. ..," one resident posted to social media.
"It seems like they just want to say, 'We tried, now shut up about it,'" another said of the Lincoln Avenue route, which is being restored between Western and Fullerton avenues.
Both buses have ridership targets associated with their pilots: an average of 1,500 rides per day for the No. 11 and 830 rides per day for the No. 31.
"Obviously, in an ideal world, we would want longer hours," said Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), who continues to push for full restoration of the No. 11.
Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th) said he plans to talk with CTA officials about the No. 31's schedule.
"I think it's a little premature," Thompson said of complaints about the pilot.
According to the CTA, the pilots' hours were developed with an eye toward success, not failure, as residents have said.
The pilots "serve the kinds of trips that the community told us they missed most, including access to senior activities, medical appointments and shopping trips," Jeff Tolman, CTA spokesman, said via email.
"Providing service that best meets the feedback from the community helps position the pilots to be a success — by attracting the ridership demand the community has expressed," Tolman said.
CTA also has a limited number of extra buses available during peak morning hours, he said, adding that since 2012 Brown Line rail service had been increased in the morning rush along the No. 11 corridor.
"We welcome community feedback as both pilots get under way," Tolman said. "That feedback is what led us to launch the No. 11 and No. 31 pilots in the first place, and will help guide us throughout both pilots."
The No. 11 bus is set to return June 20 and the No. 31 will make its comeback in September.
"Today, there is no bus. In a month, there will be a bus," and that's when the real work begins, Pawar said.
Writing in his weekly newsletter to constituents, the alderman said, "The easiest way to ensure full restoration is for our community to do everything we can to ride the bus during the pilot program."
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