WEST LOOP — A couple of riders defended the 11 Lincoln bus Monday at a public hearing on the CTA's proposed 2017 budget, while suggesting the pilot program that revived it had been set up to fail.
Lincoln Park resident Allan Mellis cheered CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. for reviving the bus line, but charged that its abbreviated route and hours of operation were "inadequate."
Kevin Karl Peterson, of Citizens Taking Action for Transit-Dependent Riders, was more harsh and direct, pointing to other CTA bus lines and services that had been discontinued in recent years.
"You brought back two bus lines that never should have been eliminated, but you brought them back at 10 a.m.," Peterson said, referring to efforts that had also revived the 31st Street bus on the South Side. "These are bus lines serving schools," he added, "but students can't take them because they don't start until 10 in the morning."
The Lincoln bus was brought back in June on a six-month pilot program, but with a shortened route basically ending at Fullerton Avenue and looping down to Webster Avenue to turn around. It also did not offer service south of the Western Avenue Brown Line "L" stop at Lawrence Avenue until after 10 a.m.
"Obviously, the hours of operation are not what I would have selected," Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) said later Monday evening. "We're just going to keep working on it. I'm not giving up."
He said he's pushing for the pilot program to be extended, as well as other options on the table.
"When something's gone for four years, it takes time for it to come back," Pawar added. "People talk about a six-month pilot, [but] the first two or three months are just people getting used to it being back."
Mellis pointed out it served many senior-citizen housing complexes along Lincoln, while uniting cultural institutions such as the Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park and the Sulzer Library and Old Town School of Folk Music in North Center. He called it "vital to the continued economic revitalization of Lincoln Avenue from Lincoln Square to Lincoln Park."
He suggested that it run south to the Clinton "L" station on the Green and Pink lines by combining with the 37 Sedgwick bus route. It could end at the Chicago History Museum at North Avenue and Clark Street on weekends, he said.
The hourlong public budget hearing took place at CTA Headquarters.
CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said ridership had been low on the revived route, but acknowledged the shortened route and hours. She said that the pilot program wouldn't be assessed until its completion at the end of the year. A decision on it could come quickly after that.
"The numbers will grow, but you have to keep marketing it and get people to ride it," Pawar said. "That's what we're going to keep doing."
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