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The 31st Street Bus Makes Its Long-Awaited Return

By Ed Komenda | September 6, 2016 2:15pm
 Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th) and Deering District Police Cmdr. Daniel Godsel welcome 11th Ward residents onto the reinstated No. 31 bus.
Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th) and Deering District Police Cmdr. Daniel Godsel welcome 11th Ward residents onto the reinstated No. 31 bus.
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DNAinfo/Ed Komenda

BRIDGEPORT — The 31st Street bus is back.

On Tuesday morning, the Chicago Transit Authority reinstated the route at the Ashland Orange Line station just after 10 a.m.

South Side dignitaries like Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th) and Theresa Mah, who won the Democratic Primary for the 2nd District of the Illinois House, showed up to show support and celebrate the route.

"This has been a journey," Thompson said. "I got involved last year when I was elected to reinstate the 31st Street bus. There was a lot of demand for this, a lot of interest in trying to reinstate the bus. We're very excited."

The No. 31 bus will now run every 30 minutes from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. between Ashland Avenue and King Drive.

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 bus routes.

"We've been working on this for several years," said Tom Gaulke, pastor of the First Lutheran Church of the Trinity and a member of the Bridgeport Alliance. "For a while I thought we weren't going to get it, but it turns out that the persistence of grass roots organizing and a collaboration across communities, across racial and economic lines, across ethnic lines, actually does pay off sometimes."

The bus will now allow neighborhood folks to get to school, work and the grocery store, Gaulke said.

"It is a great day," Mah said. "It is a sign of recognition of changing demographics of the neighborhood as well as the power of community organizing, the fact that working together we can accomplish something so amazing and this bodes really well for the future of this community.

During a six-month pilot program, the CTA plans to monitor ridership. If enough people ride the bus, the CTA will restore the route permanently. The target is 830 rides per day.

The Chicago Transit Authority recently installed new bus stop signs along 31st Street for the launch of the long-awaited return of the bus.

In November, after 18 years, the CTA approved a pilot program to reinstate the route.

In 2012, the CTA restored part of the route as part of a six-month 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.

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