LINCOLN SQUARE — Time is running out on the six-month pilot period for the Western-to-Fullerton leg of the No. 11 Lincoln bus, which was restored in June after a three-and-a-half year absence.
Though the route has failed to attract anything close to the Chicago Transit Authority's target of 1,500 riders per weekday, the CTA is recommending a six-month extension of the pilot, which the agency's board will vote on Wednesday.
The extension would allow the agency to evaluate ridership through all seasons, CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase told DNAinfo via email.
If the board approves the extension, the hours of service would remain the same as the current pilot — 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, according to Chase.
"Obviously what we wanted was the set of hours we had before the line was cut," said Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), who was among the most vocal proponents of the route's return.
Though many residents said the hours were setting the pilot up to fail, Chase said the truncated service — no morning rush hour, no nights, no weekends — was based on feedback from riders, many of them senior citizens, who said they needed the bus to get to doctor's appointments, grocery stores and run other errands in the neighborhood.
"As with all of the bus and rail service we offer, we aim to provide service when demand is greatest," Chase said. "This schedule also best complements adjacent Brown Line service and the other 11 north-south and east-west bus routes that cross or stop in the area."
Chase said the CTA would launch a new marketing campaign, developed in-house, to promote ridership on the route, and Pawar said his often would continue to beat the drum for the No. 11 as well.
"The bus was gone for four years, the first few months [of the pilot] were a 'welcome back,'" the alderman said.
"The need has always been there," Pawar said. "We're going to keep doing what we've been doing and get the word out."
With daily ridership hovering at 500, Chase said the CTA is "hopeful that by giving the route extension more timing and our marketing efforts that ridership will grow."
The No. 11 route originates north at Howard/McCormick and during the pilot's set hours travels south to Fullerton. Outside of the pilot's schedule, the route terminates at the Western Brown Line station.
The former No. 11 Lincoln/Sedgwick bus tallied a weekday ridership average of 5,526 in 2012, it's last full year of operation.
In 2015, the shortened No. 11 route averaged 1,671 weekday riders. The No. 37 Sedgwick bus, which runs from the Fullerton Red/Brown Line Station to the Clinton Blue Line station, averaged 1,681 weekday riders.
The CTA board is set to meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 567 W. Lake St.
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