LINCOLN SQUARE — The No. 11 Lincoln Avenue bus continues to hang on by a thread, having been granted yet another extension by the CTA.
At the June meeting of the transit agency's board, members approved a continuation of the Western-to-Fullerton leg of the route — a portion axed in late 2012 and revived on a trial basis in June 2016 — through at least Sept. 1.
"We expect to make a determination on whether to extend, modify or conclude the pilot sometime this summer, and we'll run the service until the fall bus schedule goes into effect no matter what decision is ultimately made," CTA spokeswoman Irene Ferradaz said.
Ridership is still well below the daily target of 1,500, with the pilot averaging just 553 rides in April, Ferradaz said.
Service during the extension will remain 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, she said.
Many folks who live along the route have said the pilot project's limited service set up the resurrected No. 11 to fail.
"The consensus of our residents is that odd service hours deter them from riding the bus," said Rudy Flores, executive director of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
"Many residents feel there is no incentive to boost ridership numbers because they feel the No. 11’s schedule does not reflect their lives and habits," he said.
Not only is the bus not a morning rush hour option but "the lack of weekend service and limited evening service mean the route is not well-suited for shopping," Flores said, "and local businesses see little tangible benefit from the route as it currently exists."
CTA has consistently responded to these complaints by stating that the hours were devised to meet the needs of residents who lobbied hard for the No. 11's return, and that Brown Line rail service targets rush hour commuters.
The schedule was "based on the hours asked for by the community to go to medical appointments, grocery shopping, senior citizen events and other activities," Ferradaz said.
Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) said he continues to believe there's demand for the route, both within and outside of the hours established by CTA. "I and the community have always wanted full restoration," said Pawar.
The alderman plans to press the No. 11's case over the summer and remains hopeful that CTA will consider adjustments to the route's hours if it's extended in the fall.
"The good news is," Pawar said, is that CTA President Dorval Carter and Chairman Terry Peterson "may not always agree with me ... but they've never stopped listening."
In the meantime, the alderman said his office will keep promoting the route to riders.
The No. 11's biggest fan, Robyn Wallace, who has worked ceaselessly to save the route on her own time and dime, was muted in her reaction to the latest extension.
"I'm happy that the No. 11 Lincoln bus has been extended through the summer, as few people were aware of it at this time last year. I can't see what the CTA will learn, though, without adjusting the hours, which a large portion of the 500 comments that I presented to them clearly indicate the need for — we need the bus when we need the bus," Wallace said.
"That said," she added, "I'm ready to accept these less-than-perfect hours if the alternative is to remove the three-mile extension that we've worked so hard to keep."