CHICAGO — As the CTA considered changes to another pilot bus program, supporters of the 31st Street bus urged the transit authority not to forget about the South Side.
A pilot program for the 31st Street bus launched in September, running from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Since before the pilot began, supporters said the schedule wouldn't best serve riders, and at a Wednesday meeting of the CTA Board, the supporters reiterated those claims and said they were hampering the pilot's success.
"Please get us some better hours, so that ridership may" improve, said the Rev. Tom Gaulke, pastor at First Lutheran Church of the Trinity, during the meeting's public comments period. "This route has been a dream come true to many people."
Gaulke was joined by Debbie Liu, the community development coordinator at the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, and a crowd of 31st Street bus riders who all said the pilot was struggling because of its hours.
The revived route so far only has half the ridership it needs, Gaulke said, and while ridership has been rising, he's hoping it would be even better if the hours were extended to serve morning commuters.
"Anyone who goes to work before 10 in the morning can't get to work in time," Gaulke told DNAinfo. "If we have to pick and choose about what better hours would be, I would say first choice would be to extend the mornings. And a close second would be, of course, weekends and/or evenings."
Supporters of the bus route said its hours — and where it doesn't stop — keeps riders from taking the bus regularly.
Liu said riders can't take the bus to bars or weekend White Sox games because it stops at 7 p.m., even though Guaranteed Rate Field is along the route. Riders also want Mercy Hospital to be a stop on the route, Liu said, and another supporter said the bus doesn't stop at 31st Street beach — even though it's the 31st Street bus.
"Some of our main supporters still don't have their businesses or their churches or their whatever accessible because the hours don't line up with their hours," Gaulke said.