BRIDGEPORT — The group of neighborhood activists that fought for years to bring back the 31st Street bus are going to battle once again.
On Monday night, members of the Bridgeport Alliance and the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community met with Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th) and asked him to sign a letter to Chicago Transit Authority President Dorval Carter and the CTA Board requesting that transportation bosses fix major problems with the 31st Street bus pilot program before its September return.
“Early this May, our rejoicing turned to frustration,” the letter says.
The CTA Board in May voted to revive both the No. 11 bus on Lincoln Avenue, set to start on June 20, and the No. 31 bus, slated to begin in September.
But the terms of the pilot program unsettled those most excited about its return.
During a six-month pilot program, the No. 31 bus will run every 30 minutes from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. between Ashland and King Drive.
When route advocates fought to bring back the bus, they asked for yearlong pilot program, service to 31st Street beach and early morning hours to give neighborhood folks a public transportation option to get to work.
“What we assumed was a win now seemed to be set up for our pilot to fail. There is no fair shot," the letter says. “Getting to temple and church? To the nightlife? It was announced the route would not run on weekends of after 7 p.m. Getting to school, to work, to morning Mass, to a morning doctor’s appointment? The route as announced will get us to none of these, as it does not begin until late morning.”
CTA officials say they will move forward with the planned route and services hours. Throughout the program, they'll collect feedback from from riders and then determine if a change needs to be made.
"Anything is possible, but right now we're going to try the hours that we've announced," said Tammy Chase, the CTA's director of communications.
The CTA axed the 31st Street route in 1997 because of low ridership, and neighborhood activists have fought for its reinstatement ever since.
Thompson did not reply to a request to be interviewed for this story and comment on whether or not he plans to sign the letter.
“We are writing you,” the letter says, “requesting that you right this wrong, to keep your promises.”
The group plans to mail the letter and deliver it in person at the next CTA Board meeting at 10 a.m. July 13
At a recent community meeting, David Berman, a spokesman from the CTA’s Service Planning Department, said there’s a lot of wiggle room to convince the CTA to change the No. 31 bus service hours.
“This is a dynamic process,” Berman said. “Our board has approved the six-month pilot, but that doesn’t mean we can’t extend it, that doesn’t mean the hours can’t be extended. When it comes down to it, this is supportive of the community. My salary is paid by the community.”
Read the full letter below:
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