South Lakefront bus route experiments 2003-05 and latest, incl. Transit Task Force forums

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit and Parking Committee and the HPKCC website, www.hydepark.org
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Winning the #15's return to Lake Park
July 26 2004 CTA hearing: from the Task Force.
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October 13 workshop news

See Transit Task Force page for TF overview, reports on the workshops and a comprehensive essay by the chairman (A summer, 2o04 Conference Reporter feature.)
Also latest update and thoughts on changing success in changing the #15 route see Transit Task Force Updates and Reports. Chairman's Transit Blog
To Transit News home.
To The December 2003 refinements

To Bus 6 month trial route restructuring (August, 2003) . To maps (2003). To Transit Needs.
CTA website on latest changes
. CTA site. E-mail CTA about routes.
Contact us
. Contact the Task Force Chairman.
5th Ward transit liaison Sue Purrington, 4th Ward Pam Cummings
Looming CTA and transit financial crisis? Will it undercut chances for any improvements? (in Transit-Region and Beyond page or Cuts and Fare Hike page). Budget summary of cuts anticipated incl. for our area:
http://www.transitchicago.com/downloads/budget/2005sum.pdf tell Acrobat to go to page 59. Or go to www.keepchicagolandmoving.com. Cuts incl. much weekend and all? late evening #6, 15, 28, 55.

In this page:

"...the overall needs and desires of local citizens would be better served were the #15 routed along Stony Island Avenue instead of South Hyde Park Boulevard.

"The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit Task Force also is working hard to identify the best match of routes and schedules for local residents. The Transit Task Force publicized its workshops broadly, and the consensus about the problems caused by routing the #15 on South Hyde Park Boulevard was stunningly remarkable. We hope the CTA will give serious attention to the results of our workshops and will draw on our knowledge of community transit usage--and our credibility in the community--in the future." - Judy Chernick, HPKCC Transit Task Force member

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News

The #15 Jeffery Local has been moved from crowded Hyde Park Blvd. east of Lake Park to Lake Park Ave. south to 57th and Stony Island. This occurred effective August 28, 2005. The Task Force has long sought this change. Our ongoing series of Transit Task Force meetings, a hugely-attended public hearing in September 2004, and repeated letters from Aldermen Hairston and Preckwinkle and businesses (the Co-op) and large residences on Lake Park plus a more thorough CTA study led to the decision. The change is another 180-day trial, but is expected to be widely supported and become permanent in March. You are welcome to read about it and add comments at the Chairman's transit blog.

Alderman Hairston's aide Sue Purrington informs us that there have been some complaints from people who will now have to walk a couple blocks or add a transfer--inevitable whenever a route is changed--but that most are pleased, especially those living on Hyde Park Blvd.

CTA moves #15, Task Force work praised in Herald article.

August 28 CTA agreed with the HPKCC Hyde Park Transit Task Force workshops and our aldermen, backed up by a big public hearing September, 2005. They said their study showed the #15 should be moved back to Lake Park, which was done effective August 28, 2005.

As the article below notes, the HPKCC www.hydepark.org at the end of August trumpets "We win one- the #15 back to Lake Park." See more in these route webpages to see the whole story. The article below notes the important work of the Conference and its Task Force in this achievement. The Conference appreciates the numerous mentions in the article.
Note: It is unlikely there will be further changes in the forseeable future (short of general CTA cutbacks) despite the desire of many to see the X28 move also to Lake Park and become an all-day route again.

New #15 wins praise locally. Hyde Park Herald, August 31, 2005. By Nykeya Woods

Two years after fighting to have the #15 bus route move to Lake Park avenue, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference boasted on its website, "We win one--the #15 back to Lake Park" on Sunday, Aug. 28.

The #15 is expected to travel along Lake Park Avenue between 57th Street and East Hyde Park Boulevard instead of along south Hyde Park Boulevard.

It's something that we asked for last year and we are happy about the changes," HPKCC Transit Task Force Chairman James Withrow said. He said having the #15 along South Hyde Park Boulevard created traffic congestion. Having the route move to Lake Park Avenue is more logical because it is a commercial strip in the neighborhood and is equipped to handle the traffic. The new reroutes will provide the best travel for residents in west an central Hyde Park, he added.

The HPKCC Transit Task Force is a community-oriented group that began meeting as a result of the Chicago Transit Authority's shuffling routes in 2003 in order to help the CTA understand how riders felt. During 2004, the task force held four workshops, for input on the second reroutes that occurred for the #15 and the #28 [and X28] Stony Island local. During the workshops, residents decided that they wanted both routes to travel along Lake Park Avenue.

HPKCC's Gary Ossewaarde agreed with Withrow and said the #15 on South Hyde Park Boulevard crowded an already densely populated area. He suggested that residents and businesses would benefit from it if the route moved to Lake Park Avenue.

"Business customers for the Co-op [Markets] and residents of several high rises sought this change which they believed would better serve their needs. This change would also significantly shorten the route, including for those wishing to transfer to the #55 Garfield and #X55 Garfield Express routes, " Ossewaarde said.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said that the task force efforts were important to having the bus situation resolved. "A combination of constituent requests to our office, as well as involvement by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference task force, and a separate survey conducted by the CTA put all of this in place," Hairston said.

The only problem withrow had was that the CTA notified residents 10 days before the reroute was expected to be implemented. "We're disappointed they gave us 10-day notice before [the route] changed," he said. By doing this, he said the CTA missed a chance to show riders that they are responsive to their needs.

"We are continually evaluating our service and looking for ways to improve the transit experience for our customers," CTA Board Chairman Carole Brown said in a statement. According to CTA, analysis from CTA staff and community requests showed a preference for the bus to be rerouted down Lake Park Avenue.

The #15 reroute is one of three CTA 180-day route experiments. In other news, the CTA board approved a one-year extension agreement with the University to Chicago to continue subsidized bus services for its students...

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The HPKCC Transit Task Force and Alderman Hairston's office will seek a meeting with CTA now that the #15 will finally be moved to Lake Park Avenue August 28, 2005. There is concern about increased bunching, deferrals of maintenance and looming financial crisis, and news that ridership has shot up on the south lakeshore corridor counterbalancing (or not?) rising fuel costs.

But will CTA have to seek new cuts because of lack of state consensus on transit aid and reform? Ironically, any cuts will come as the CTA boasts of increasing its ridership for six of the last seven years. Despite last year's 25 cent fare hike, CTA buses and trains carried nearly a half million more riders than the year before. Busses accounted for the largest service increase with the Lake Shore Drive corridor seeing particularly large ridership jumps. On the south lakefront weekday bus ridership increased by 3.2 percent while Saturday rides jumped up 8.5 percent. The CTA cites these numbers as evidence of success for its reconfiguration of bus service on the south lakefront. The route shifts and service tweaks began in August 2003. The first 7 months of 2005 saw another 3% increase in ridership.

...With increasing demand, the CTA wants legislators to retool the formula which funds Metra, Pace and the CTA. Failure to do so would mark the beginning of a three-year cycle of service cuts and fare hikes, CTA officials warn. Lagging sales-tax revenue in Chicago has eroded the CTA's annual budgets under the existing formula, which was established almost 20 years ago. Metra has opposed the CTA's proposed changes.

Although CTA spokespersons, following a board vote, seemed to slam to door on any revisitation of routings for the #28X and #15 in Hyde Park (as the HPKCC Transit Task Force has sought), the Task Force learned in spring 2005 that there was flexibility re: the #15. The Task Force leadership expects to meet soon with CTA reps. Meanwhile, the University has beefed up service on the #173 (an evening route to downtown and the North Side paid for by the University of Chicago) on Friday and Saturday nights partly in case CTA should go into partial meltdown in 2006.

Community Workshops on new routes, other good-bad-ideas for CTA, Metra- watch for the next.. The series started May 26 2004 with nearly 30 on hand, including Alderman Preckwinkle. The second was on July 14 with 43 on hand. That on August 25 had nearly 30 and heard from CTA and then selected preferred routes. The series is cosponsored by Aldermen Hairston and Preckwinkle and the Transit Task Force of HPKCC. Watch for the next workshop as we evaluate changes and service directions to come up with routes that really go where riders want to go, deal with proposed drastic cutbacks/how transit gets its funding, and move on to more transit questions such as Metra service.

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At a hugely-attended public hearing September 28, residents one after the other said the #15 should go back to Lake Park Avenue, and the X28 also-provided that service is adequate from the #6. These backed the positions of the Task Force and Aldermen Hairston and Preckwinkle.

CTA called a quickie hearing (under 6 days notice to aldermen) Monday, July 26, 2004. The South Shore Cultural Center Solarium was packed with people mostly complaining about service, but criticizing certain routes (for HPK the main route problem was with access north and west of here and of course downtown, and about routing of #15 and 28. Purpose was to give comment on making permanent this December routes that went into effect starting August 2003 and as recently as June 20. More hearings will be scheduled in the fall. About/Task Force position on the hearing. The aldermen and transit task force attended and stated displeasure at the process and cutting off of in-progress community evaluation and decision making on certain routes. Basically, the TF welcomes comments being made on any route but wanted to tell CTA to let us finish the process on #15 and 28/X28. The TF proceeded with its work and workshop regardless.
Letters from aldermen.

Note: A member of our Task Force has made diligent effort to find and examine the documents and studies on which the various restructuring and recommendations are said by CTA to be based. Has not found such on CTA website, only a reference or two.

At a meeting of the core committee for the TTF, we had a wide-ranging discussion about how to deal with these quickie hearings (which the CTA spokesperson on August 25 said was the resp. of the marketing department). The upshot is that while we feel we have every right to be angry about such shoddy treatment from the CTA, that anger is most effective if we channel it well.

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South Side Route experiments were extended 6 months by CTA at the October 14, 2004 board meeting following September 28 hearing. Affected are #15, #28, #X28. In discussion after the Sept. 28 hearing it became clear CTA already decided to make the present routes permanent but would use the input to make changes in the spring, maybe what the participants and alderman asked. With one voice, it was asked that #15 move back to Lake Park, #28 and X28 be reunified, go all day and preferably in the night and on Lake Park once the #6 problems (described in detail) are fixed. Problems with route operations were detailed by testifiers. The Transit Task Force asked for an extension before any routes were made permanent and CTA has agreed.

GMO

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October 13 workshop quick report. The CTA board was reported to be likely October 14 to extend the present routes experiment for another 6 months. The Task Force hopes CTA listens to us and the many who spoke at the September hearing. The Task Force came up with many ways to increase and improve CTA funding, many different from the CTA position. The core group will meet to narrow and reconcile all of these and plan the next workshop, likely to include Metra service ideas.

"I urge more residents to attend the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transportation Task Force and speak their minds on this and other transportation issues in Hyde Park. The meetings are well thought out, organized and productive." Bonnie Fields in the Herald.

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CTA letter to Herald, February 2, 2005, replying to a resident's letter, asserts community supports continuing routes as are, offers modest hope on loud enunciators.

(Note: the assertion concerning community support runs contrary to what the Task Force found at its meetings, the September hearing, and communication with our aldermanic offices.)

By Terry Levin, vice president, CTA customer service.

Thank you for your complaint to CTA President Frank Kruesi. There are no current plans to change the routings of the buses you mentioned and the feedback we've received from the local community clearly favors maintaining South Hyde Park Boulevard as a major artery for bus service. In fact, when we moved the X28 to Lake Park Avenue, ridership dropped and we received protests from customers wanting it back.

We regret you are being disturbed by the exterior announcements on the buses, though they should not be audible unless the front doors are opening to board or disembark a customer. These announcements were designed to assist people who are blind or have impaired vision [to] know the route and destination of an arriving bus and are of greatest importance on streets where there are multiple routes.

The volume of these announcements is supposed to be variable, automatically increasing and decreasing based on the amount of noise in the immediate surrounding area. If there is a case where the volume is out of alignment, we try to locate the bus and have it repaired. If you hear a volume you believe is too loud, though it must be audible to people at the stop, please try to take note of the day, time and what route is being announced* and we will do our best to identify the vehicle and have it inspected.

Our goal is not to disturb you but to provide a service that is essential for some of our customers with disabilities. Hopefully we will be able to do so in a way that causes you the absolute minimum of concern. Thank you again for your complaint and please feel welcome to report any specific instance so we can check it out.

*also the large "run" number on the bus

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Service on the #6 appears significantly better

Frequency and dependability, at least through Hyde Park seem to be significantly up in early 2005, there is a good mix of newer buses- with the Seattle's gone, and there is less bunching. Littering riders and the volume of the enunciators remain a problem--but this is on all routes.

The Task Force holds that as spring approaches and if route 6 service is sufficient for the populous east corridor, CTA should consider moving the #15 back to Lake Park where its customers want to be and where it will give some relief to narrow, residential, heavily traveled South Hyde Park Blvd., and moving X28 back to Lake Park and running it through the day.

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August 25 Bus Routes Workshop A formal report and coverage on the August 25 workshop, attended by nearly 30, and shared with aldermen and CTA and the public, are below or in the Transit Task Force page.

For over 40 minutes before we voted, we heard from CTA representative Kimberly Porter on planning rationale for and realities behind routing, buses selected, etc. and members asked thoughtful questions--some of the new realities and principles of planning she presented will be given in the report.

In the votes, done partially at tables, most favored returning the 15 to Lake Park a majority also favored moving the X28 back to Lake Park (all hours to downtown for the 28--this and the following proviso were consensus positions), provided #6 service matches the need for capacity (assumed by the core group to include seating) and frequency. Much of this is reflected in the post Aug. 25 Resolution that can be read in the Transit Task Force page.

The Task Force Core Group is aware of the subtleties in the matter--the six has to be fixed before we can contemplate/ask X28 move to Lake Park and becoming all-day, and a hitch to fixing the 6 is service of the 6 by the 77th garage (near its terminal--that garage cannot presently service the larger, articulated buses). And we recognize the danger that the X28 market may be thin with fewer riders from the So Hyde Park corridor and so CTA could decide to drop X28 with its west Loop alternative. The Core Group draws the conclusion that the TF must insist that neither the 6 nor X28 routes can yet be made "permanent."

The core group has been meeting ahead of the CTA hearing and the October 13 Workshop. It is presenting its report and resolution to the aldermen and CTA.

The Board of Directors of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference endorsed a resolution on bus routing presented by the Transit Task Force September 2, 2004. To Resolution. To Transit Task Force.


Herald coverage of the August 25 workshop, annotated

Hyde Park Herald, September 1, 2004. by Nykeya Woods

Area residents assembled at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club for the third installment of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit Task Force Bus Workshop Aug. 25.

In August 2003, Chicago Transit Authority decided to restructure bus routes in communities neighboring Lake Shore Drive. In April [sic-December, then June 2004] 2004, CTA further experimented with these routes. Now CTA is considering making these experimental bus routes permanent.

Information gathered at these meetings will be given to Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) to be given t the CTA as the opinions of the community.

CTA commuters voted on where they want the #15 Jeffery Local and the #18 Stony Island Local bus routes to run. Almost three quarters of the attendants wanted the #15 Jeffery Local to move back to Lake Park Avenue. Some added that Lake Park Avenue was equipped to handle the bus. Five people wanted the bus to stay on Hyde Park Boulevard and three were split on whether they wanted the #15 Jeffery Local on Lake Park Avenue or Hyde Park Boulevard.

Most of the attendants wanted the #28 Stony Island Local to stay on Lake Park Avenue. There was not a vote for input [sic!!!!!!!] on the #X28 Stony Island Express which was created in April [sic].

Residents also had a chance to ask CTA representative Kimberly Porter questions about route selection and restructuring. Porter reiterated the reasons CTA decided to change the bus routes, which were due to the population explosion on the southeast side due to the reconstruction of the Lake Shore Drive [sic!!!! ].

Porter also stated that CTA knows where riders get on the bus and when they get off the bus. Riders are counted as they use their fare cards.

James Withrow, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit Task Force Chairman, said CTA did not say anything surprising at the workshop. "I thought, in a word, [the meeting [sic!!!!] ] was anticlimactic," said Withrow. He said the vote about where residents would like the #28 and the #15 bus routes was a decision that the aldermen anticipated. It was also something he expected.

Withrow said he was grateful that Porter came to the workshop. It shows that the CTA cares about how changes are affecting the community and they are taking an interest in what residents think about the bus routes, he said.

Unfortunately, the restructuring of these routes made using the bus more difficult for some. CTA sponsored a meeting in July at the South Shore Cultural Center about making current bus routes permanent. Hyde Park resident Jontay Darko was disappointed when the CTA decided to change the original bus routes. "I felt it was unfair that the 51st Street bus does not go east of the Dan Ryan {Expressway]," said Darko. "That doesn't make sense because I live on 51st Street, but I can't catch the 51st Street bus."

Darko pays extra on the #15 Jeffrey Local to go to 51st and Ingleside avenue. Before the CTA re-routed the #51, the bus traveled east and west from Kedzie Boulevard to Lake Park Avenue. "The fares have already gone up," continued Darko, "so people have to pay extra money if they live on 51st Street and want to go west."

Hyde Park residents still question decisions on what direction bus routes travel. CTA officials said that studies signaled a need for service changes. "Initially we decided to change the routes because we thought there was a need for improved transit service," said Mary Christopher, general manager of Service Planning. "They are making all these changes," said Darko. "They want to make stuff easier and more convenient. But it's not more convenient. And it's also more costly for people who don't have money."

The Transit Task Force will have another meeting on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Avenue. CTA will hold a meeting at the South Shore Cultural Center in mid September. At press time, no time or date was set.

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July 14 2004 Final Report. July 14 invitation . May 26, 2004 Workshop Report

Final Report on the July 14, 2004 bus routes workshop

By James Withrow, HPKCC Transit Task Force Chairman

July 14th Workshop Report from
the Hyde Park Transit Task Force

43 people participated in the July 14th workshop of the Hyde Park Transit Task Force (TTF), the second in a short series of workshops designed to improve interactions between the public and the CTA. The next workshop will be on Wednesday, August 25th, at 7 pm, again at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Avenue Avenue. We plan to address the #15 bus route and make a final recommendation about the Hyde Park section of the #28. You can comment on this report or request that we contact you about future TTF programs or volunteer to play a larger role in the TTF by any of these methods:

Email James Withrow, TTF Chairman: jamesdwithrow@mac.com
Call the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference at 773 288-8343
or send a note to the TTF at 1513 E. 53rd St., Chicago, IL 60615

After a short introduction, the participants used maps of the Loop to indicated where they wished a bus would pick them up in an area bounded by Oak St., Halsted, Roosevelt and Lake Michigan. Each person placed three dots on a map at his/her table. The chairman has compiled the group maps into a larger Loop map, which will be displayed at the next workshop.

Next we discussed where the #28 bus should travel. The participants were asked to assume that the #6 route would maintain its present course through Hyde Park and Kenwood and that its service would be adequate for its ridership. With that in mind, they were then asked to work in groups to come up with the best arguments for each of the three routes the CTA has used for the #28 in the past year.

The Lake Park Plan. The first #28 CTA plan, used in September, October and November of 2003, had the #28 coming up Stony Island to 56th Street then west to Lake Park Blvd to 47th St. At that time, all #28 buses then went to the Loop via Lake Shore Drive.

The Hyde Park Plan. The second #28 CTA plan, used from December of 2003 until June of 2004, had the #28 travel up Stony Island, go east at 57th Street, then north on South Hyde Park Blvd., back west on East Hyde Park Blvd. to Lake Park and then north to 47th St. At that time, all #28 buses also went to the Loop via Lake Shore Drive.

The Split Plan. The third #28 CTA plan, in use since late June, splits the #28 into two routes through the Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhoods. The X28 follows the route of the Hyde Park plan above and continues to the Loop. The X28 runs only during rush hours with #X28 buses leaving the Loop as late as 7:45. The regular #28 follows the route of the Lake Park plan described above, but terminates at 47th st.

Concern has been expressed that, as a practical matter, we can't assume the #6 will have adequate service and that the Hyde Park and Split plans do a good job of supplementing that service for those living in the densely populated South Hyde Park Blvd. corridor. At the next workshop, we plan to address how this concern affects our recommendations.

The arguments the Workshop participants came up with for the Split plan included the idea that it is a compromise between the Hyde Park and Lake park plans. The X28 supplements the #6 during rush hours and provides an alternative route across the Loop for residents of the South Hyde Park Blvd. corridor. The #28 buses provide service to the Hyde Park Business district for those living north of the 5100 block of Lake Park. A suggestion was made that the Split plan would be less confusing if the #X 28 were given a different route number.

Workshop participants noted that he Hyde Park plan also supplemented #6 capacity to the Loop. Businesses on 55th St. east of the Metra tracks benefited from more foot traffic under this plan and residents of South and East Hyde Park Blvd. enjoyed not having to walk under the Metra viaduct for trips to the west Loop and south to Stony Island.

Participants noted that the Lake Park plan provided the best service for residents of West and Central Hyde Park. South Hyde Park Blvd. is a residential street and many residents feel there are now too many buses moving through that corridor, contributing to noise, pollution, and traffic flow problems. The Lake Park plan is a swifter route through Hyde Park for riders traveling from the Stony Island corridor to the south. The business district along Lake Park Blvd., especially the original Co-op, is best served by the Lake Park Plan, which brings the business district riders from the Loop, from Stony Island Corridor, and from the densely populated blocks of Lake Park between 47th and 51st Streets. The Lake Park plan also provides better transferability to the #55 Garfield bus.

The August 25 workshop will endeavor to make final recommendations on the #28 and #15 bus routes because the CTA has recently indicated to our aldermen that the agency plans to hold a hearing in early September with the intention of making the current routes permanent. The CTA has been invited to attend our August workshop, although the TTF has no way of compelling the CTA to send representatives.

Again, our thanks go out to those whose participation made this workshop successful.

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Quick changes


Service increase or cutback? Some #6 buses terminates at 57th or at 63rd, including in afternoon rush, according to CTA's website. This is an apparent effort to increase turnaround-hence more buses to north and downtown, but decreases service to the south and may increase the number of buses on South Hyde Park Blvd. (an answer being to return 15 to Lake Park?). No information on this change was given the public or to Alderman Hairston's office, which is checking into the matter and protesting. The alderman's office was aware that some buses were being added northbound at 63rd, esp. in morning rush--but this has been past practice, usually originating at the Museum. More as we learn more. There is a problem: whether a gain or a loss-these are unannounced and un negotiated with aldermen and communities. GMO

Something else new you should know about the 6:

If you get off the #6 at Jackson, you can transfer to #14 to go to the Ogilvie Transportation Center (NWn Station).

The eastbound Wacker/Michigan bus stop has been moved from the northeast corner to the northwest corner. The CTA has erected a full-size bus shelter for protection from the elements, and there is a wide sidewalk. More importantly, moving the bus stop to the west side of the intersection affords same-stop transfers to southbound #6 from southbound #146 or #10 for riders returning from north of the Chicago River.

Thanks to Judy Chernick, of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Transit Task Force for these tips.

And complaints continue to pour in about the awful condition of the Seattle buses.

 


Background. (Route changes to #15 and #28 went into effect June 20, 2004.)

The Hyde Park Transit Task Force will be hosting a series of workshops starting in May and we're hoping for a good turnout. Anyone who uses public transportation or has an interest in the well being of Hyde Park, Kenwood and neighboring communities is welcome to come.

There will be no food or drinks served, no impassioned speeches given, no appearances by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. However, you'll have a chance to work with your neighbors to develop a set of priorities for us to present to our aldermen and the CTA. I've seen this workshop method work well elsewhere and I hope you'll give us a chance.

Aldermen and HPKCC Transit Task Force call meetings to address bus woes

drawn from the Hyde Park Herald, July 7, 2004

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) hope to ease Hyde Parkers' chronic transit complaints through a series of public meetings on recent bus route changes co-sponsored by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference's Transit Taskforce.

The next meeting [July 14] will focus on the June 20 changes to the #15, #28, #28X and #6 bus routes and starts at 7 p.m. at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave.

The route shifts are part of an ongoing experimental restructuring of the South lakefront's public transit options meant to improve residents' downtown access. the Transit Task Force hopes to develop a plan through these community meetings that the aldermen can present to the Chicago Transit Authority. At the May 26 meeting almost 3o residents and 4th Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle were on hand to discuss local transit issues. Anyone who uses public transportation in Hyde Park is welcome to attend.

Last week, the CTA announced it will extend #6 Jackson Park Express service 30 minutes later on weekdays in both directions.

______________________________________

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit Task Force is planning a Riders' Workshops in 2004 on the issue co-sponsored by Aldermen Hairston and Preckwinkle. Thursday, May 26, 7-8:30 pm, Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood. This is intended to find out where residents stand, provide the input the CTA inadequately sought (in the Task Force's view), and get people ahead of the curve and observing the "trial" in progress. After the changes have been in place a while, the Task Force and aldermen will reconvene the public in a major meeting.

Acting Chairman Withrow's statement announcing the May 26 2004 Transit Workshop

Hello!

The Hyde Park Transit Task Force will be hosting a workshop on public transportation in our neighborhood on Wednesday, May 26th at 7pm. The workshop will take place at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 South Kenwood Avenue. Because you've expressed an interest in transit issues, your presence at this event would be welcome and you should feel free to invite along anyone else who uses public transportation in Hyde Park.

There will be no speeches at the workshop, no food served, no door prizes, no appearance by Justin Timberlake or Janet Jackson-- I doubt if we'll even decorate the room. However, you will get the chance to collaborate with other Hyde Parkers to determine our transit priorities. I expect the meeting to be kept under 90 minutes.

If you'd like to help publicize this event, I would be very grateful. By all means, feel free to forward this e-mail to those who might be interested. If you would like to send along names of other Hyde Parkers you think I should contact, please do.

And, of course, if you would like to attend the regular meetings of the Hyde Park Transit Task Force, please tell me that. We may have one small planning meeting before this event, for instance.

Thank you,
James Withrow, Acting Chairman, Hyde Park Transit Task Force

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Report of the May 26th, 2004 Workshop of the
Hyde Park Transit Task Force

The next workshop of the Transit Task Force (TTF) will be held on July 14th at 7 pm, at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club and will focus on bus routes. You can contact us by any of these methods:

Email James Withrow, Acting TTF Chairman: Withrow@uchicago.edu
Call the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference at 773-288-8343
or send a note to the TTF at 1513 E. 53rd St, Chicago IL, 60615

The May 26th Transit Workshop was held from 7-8:30 pm at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. The event drew approximately 25 people who shared their views on three transit topics: Bus Operations, the New Bus Routes, and How the CTA and the Public Interact.

Nearly everyone who attended filled out a transit survey constructed by Judy Chernick and the other Transit Task Force core members. About two-thirds indicated they would like to be contacted for future TTF programs. This workshop report is being mailed out to all those who signed in at the welcoming table, but additional mailings will be sent only to those who indicated an interest in future programs.

Withrow acted as facilitator of the meeting and explained how the workshop would proceed. Participants sat around tables, in teams of five to seven people per table. For each of the three topics, all the teams took about ten minutes to discuss the topic and were asked to concisely write down what they considered Good, Bad, or an Idea for Improvement. At the end of the discussion time, the teams posted their conclusions on the front wall and the facilitator read aloud all the written comments with some additional brief discussion.

The following report was prepared by the core committee and is the official statement of the Transit Task Force. It was primarily based on what the teams wrote about each of the topics.

BUS OPERATIONS
· Drivers were generally seen as courteous and polite, helpful with information, safety-minded and patient with the disabled.
· Bus bunching was a universally recognized problem.
· Attendees identified rider-friendly features such as bike racks, the Card Plus system and Senior Cards, although they hoped to soon see a Senior Card Plus. A wish was expressed for more transit card machines, possibly at our Metra stations.
· Inside enunciators were greatly appreciated, but the outside enunciators drew much criticism for disturbing residential neighborhoods. Televisions offering advertising inside buses, although only rumored, were heartily condemned.
· Attendees harshly criticized the inadequate seating capacity on #6 route buses and the vast majority preferred larger buses, even if this meant having to put up temporarily with older buses—a view Aldermen Preckwinkle and Hairston have already communicated to the CTA.
· Owl service was recommended for the #6 route as well as better night service on the #55. We felt there were often too few buses in the evenings.
· Residents of 76th Street asked that off-duty #6 buses not travel down their blocks.

NEW BUS ROUTES
The workshop participants discussed the bus routes, but in light of the changes the CTA will implement on June 20th—the third set of changes for our neighborhoods within a year—the writers of the report for the workshop decided to revisit this issue at our next event. A second workshop focusing on bus routes will be held on July 14th at 7pm, again at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. The larger the turnout, the more seriously the CTA will take our recommendations.

HOW the CTA and the PUBLIC INTERACT
· Public feedback at board meetings was seen as a step in the right direction, but time allotted to the public was deemed severely inadequate.
· Some participants mentioned finding the website and trip planner useful, but the red schedules often do not print well. Better ridership statistics, including time of day and portions of routes, were requested. Many of the participants said they used the website and would welcome other improvements.
· Complaints to the CTA seem to draw mixed results with some attendees expressing a lack of feedback while others received replies.
· Electronic signs on the outside of buses are too often wrong or blank. Bus stop signs should carry a definition of terms like evening, days, nights, etc. And while the CTA got high marks for replacing the bus stop signs concurrent with the many route changes we’ve seen in our neighborhood, the lack of advance notice of those changes was criticized.
· While experimentation may show a certain willingness to adapt, the bus route changes drew criticism for inadequate consultation and lack of knowledge of riders’ needs.
· A request was made for more Transit Task Force meetings, preferably with CTA line management and a University of Chicago bus representative. The Task Force should also do a better job of working with our aldermen.

Comments concerning this report or other transit issues can be sent to the Acting Chairman, James Withrow at Withrow@uchicago.edu, or by calling the office of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference at 773-288-8343 or by mailing to the Conference office at 1513 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL, 60615. We take very seriously all comments from our neighborhoods’ public transit stakeholders—riders, residents and workers.

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Changes voted by the CTA board April 14 slated for June 20, 2004

CTA spokespersons informed the aldermanic offices that they were recommending to the board trial of the following changes for the Hyde Park corridor (possibly to be considered at the board meeting on April 14.)

Route #15 stays the same except use S. Hyde Park Blvd., not Lake Park, between 57th and 51st. (Runs from 103rd and Jeffery to 47th Red Line)

Route #28 runs from 103rd Stony Island via Lake Park and terminating at 47th (not going downtown), not via Hyde Park Blvd. The former #28 continued on 47th the Red Line.

A replacement (not "new") Route #X28 EXPRESS follows the route of the present #28 from 103rd downtown (including Hyde Park Blvd.) but run only weekdays during rush hours 7-10 am and 3-7 pm (presumably both ways, or the announcement would say "rush direction only"). CTA says it will provide "additional service" on the #6 for non-rush hours when the #X28 is not running - but of course not to the West Loop.

Comment: CTA appears to have merged its agenda and experience with the current trial period (including indicated low ridership on the expanded #28) with complaints of many about the flip-flop of the #15 and #28 routing in December. As indicted below, many thought the changes illogical, counter to expected patterns, hurting business users (esp. of the Co-op), stranding/isolating from areas south riders living on Lake Park 47th to 51st, along 47th, and in central Hyde Park. However, many living in very dense East Hyde Park were very pleased with the changes, especially since it brought easing of problems with the "unfixed six." Both aldermen sought return of the #15 to Hyde Park and #28 to Lake Park.

The most serious change is loss of non-rush #x28 service which went to the West Loop and Union Station. Is this loss compensated for by promised increase in #6 off-peak service? And it limits the usefulness of hopes to extend the circuit of the #X28 to return nearer the Ogilvie Center (Monroe or Washington.) (Note: some observers report that the majority of #28 riders boarding at Union Station are shuttlers who get off and transfer in the east loop.)

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July 19, 2004 letter by Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th) to Carole Brown, Chairman, CTA (similar from Ald. Hairston)

Dear Ms. Brown:

I am writing to express my displeasure with the treatment of CTA riders on the south side. Over the past year, several bus change routes have been implemented. However, notification was inadequate with each change.

On July 20, the third change occurred again with inadequate notice. This last change resulted in the movement of the #15 to Hyde Park Boulevard and the splitting of the #28 into a local running on Lake Park and an express on Hyde Park Boulevard (only during rush hours). Earlier this year, I appealed to CTA regarding the lack of continuous bus service on Lake Park Avenue from 47th to 55th Street. The businesses on this corridor were complaining that they were losing business. People found it difficult to reach them. As a result, you decided to split the #28 to a local and express. While it does provide continuous service on Lake Park, I do not understand why the #28 could not have just moved to Lake Park from Hyde Park and run all day to downtown. This would decrease congestion on Hyde Park and give better service to residents west of Lake Park.

I am also troubled by the timing of the public meeting to discuss these last changes. My office learned that a public meeting is being scheduled for this month. The change has just occurred; people are just beginning to realize what has happened. July is too early for this meeting. I am requesting that the meeting be scheduled for September and no sooner. The community must be given adequate time to judge the impact of this latest round of changes in bus routes.

Thank you for giving your consideration to this matter.

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July 20, 2004 Herald report on the July 14 workshop and editorial on the changes with call for CTA presence

Concerns mount over CTA bus route changes to #28

Hyde Park Herald. By Mike Stevens

Residents discussed the pros and cons of shifting local bus routes last week at the second transit workshop hosted by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.

Organizers hope the workshops, held at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood ave., will help residents reach a consensus on route changes that both 4th Ward ald. Toni Preckwinkle and 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston can present to the Chicago Transit Authority.

The workshops have drawn increasing numbers of concerned residents frustrated with ongoing route changes. The route restructuring began last summer and is part of the CTA's experimental restructuring of the south lakefront's bus routes meant to improve downtown service.

"Originally task force meetings were three or four people," Task Force Chairman James Withrow said. The turnout of over 40 people met Withrow's expectations. "To get that many people wanting to talk about public transportation gladdens my heart," Withrow said.

Between exchanges of long-held gripes about the CTA, residents discussed the merits of either keeping or changing the CTA's decision to split the #28 Stony Island route into two routes. The #28 shifted back to Lake Park Avenue from South Hyde Park Boulevard but stops northbound at 47th Street. A new #X28 follows South Hyde Park Boulevard during rush hour and continues downtown.

Rather than call for a vote to gauge which changes residents wanted to see, Withrow asked residents to present arguments for keeping or changing the current routes.

Most residents favored canceling the split route and want #28 downtown service all day as well as weekends.

Hyde Parker Virgie Sellers wanted a sensible route established sooner rather than later. "That's my problem, all these changes,"Sellers said. "I've lived in Hyde Park all my life and I've never seen so many changes."

Each table of six or seven people was also asked to highlight the areas they favored for downtown bus stops.

One of the task force's primary goals is to improve communication between the CTA and Hyde Parkers, Withrow said. CTA officials will likely attend the next workshop, scheduled for Aug. 25, to explain the reason for route changes, hear concerns and answer questions, Withrow said.

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CTA should represent at Transit Workshop

The Herald would like to personally invite the Chicago Transit Authority to attend a Transit Workshop at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 25 [2004] at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S . Kenwood Ave. The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference will sponsor the event.

For the sake of bus access through the neighborhood and to elsewhere in the city, it is important that CTA and the Hyde Park community interact in the same room. Residents need to hear decisions being made about their public transportation straight from the horse's mouth.

About 40 residents attended the HPKCC's last Transit Workshop on July 14. While there were some obvious gripes over how CTA has changed routes in Hyde Park, discontinued service to the Loop on the #28 Stony Island and has not adequately informed residents of these decisions, the participants at the workshop put anger aside and derived concrete solutions. Some of these ideas can be proposed to a CTA representative at the Aug. 25 workshop.

CTA will find participants of these Transit Workshops very cooperative and dedicated to finding the best solutions. More came out to last week's workshop than to the first one held in May. Since then, CTA cancelled the #28 bus service to Union Station and replaced it with a Loop-bound #X28 which operates only during rush hours. The #28 heading northbound on Lake Park Avenue stops at 47th Street. The #X28 runs the length of Hyde Park Boulevard before joining 51st Street and Lake Park Avenue for its run to the city.

The list of route change since last August goes on. CTA has meddled with 14 routes affecting the South Lake Shore Drive corridor including [1, 2, X3, 4, X4, 6, 14, 15, 26, 27, 28, 47, 51, and 71.] All these changes were made under the guise of "faster trips into the Loop and fewer transfers," according to an Aug. 22, 2003 CTA press release. But residents at last week's workshop did not feel they were making faster trips with fewer transfers. There must be a communication gap.

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Viewpoints

"I think [these changes] will create confusion, especially among seniors. [Quoting Proverbs 15:22:] When no counsel is taken plans miscarry but when there are many advisors they succeed." Claude Weil, Transit Task Force and HPKCC member.

CTA's Sheila Gregory says increased off peak #6 service will take up any slack, "This is the best solution for the resources that we have."

Reaction and plan of action by Alderman Hairston: Two letters

Letter to CTA, May 4, 2004

Mary Kay Christopher
Chicago Transit Authority
Merchandise Mart Plaza

Dear Ms. Christopher,

As alderman, I am writing to inform you of my anger at the number of "provisional" changes that the CTA has imposed on South Side riders and most particularly those people in the 5th ward who use public transportation. These changes, to be instituted mid June, will be the third in one year, and many of my constituents are very unhappy about the new routes and do not understand why they are again having to make adjustments.

To this end the Fifth Ward Service Office, working with local public transit committees has formed a task force for the purpose of 1) preparing the public for the transition in June, by working with the CTA to insure that timely information on the changes is widely distributed to riders, and 2) to monitor these changes over the next six months so that by December of this year we will be able to settle on a bus route that actually serves our communities.

To help us with our monitoring project, we are asking that the CTA submit a plan for notifying the public on the proposed route changes with dates and locations where CTA personnel will be positioned, how flyers with route changes will be distributed, and what news media will be used to publicize the changes. We are also asking that we be supplied with ridership information on the current #6, #15, #28 buses as soon as possible....

cc: Theresa Mintle, General Manager, Governmental Relations
Lettie Close, Senior Government and Community Relations Officer
James Withrow, Chair, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference [sic]

#28 Stony bus changes not proposed by Ald.
By Alderman Leslie A. Hairston (5th)

Hyde Park Herald, May 5, 2004

To the Editor:

Your article in the April 28, 2004 Herald incorrectly identified me as the individual who requested the proposed changes to the #28 and #15 bus lines. In fact, in response to these changes, our office, working with the 4th Ward and the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Public Transit Committee, will be holding community meetings for the purpose of involving riders in monitoring the changes and making recommendations to the CTA Board.

If you want to be a part of this project, please call the 5th Ward office at 324-5555, the 4th Ward office at 536-8103 or the HPKCC at 288-8343.

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Original April 28 2004 Herald coverage

Alderman Hairston is correct that she did not ask for or seek the proposed changes, although her office were researching effects of changes made in December, responding to concerns by constituents. Also only in part is this restoration to original routes, even understanding "original" as those that went into effect August, 2003.

Hyde Park Herald, April 28, 2004. By Mike Stevens

Following complaints from 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston and many Hyde Park commuters, the Chicago Transit Authority announced plans earlier this month to restore the #28 Stony Island an the #15 Jeffery Local to their original routes this summer.

The #15 Jeffery Local will be rerouted to South Hyde Park Boulevard between 51st and 57th Streets. The #28 Stony Island route will return to Lake Park Avenue between 51st and 56th Street and will be renamed simply the #28 Stony Island. But it comes at a cost. Instead of all-day express service, downtown riders can only head to and from downtown on a #28 bus during rush hours. This rush hour route will be named the #x28 Stony Island Express and will remain on Hyde Park Boulevard between 57th Street and 51st Street. This means Hyde Park commuters west of the Metra tracks can expect to continue walking the extra two blocks to Hyde Park Boulevard for downtown express service.

Unlike its original route, the renamed #28 Stony Island will end at 47th street and Lake Park Avenue instead of continuing west along 47th Street to the Red Line stop at the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Critics say the #28 route change amounts to a loss of express service.

CTA officials counter that additional buses on the #6 Jackson Park Express route during "off-peak hours" will replace the full-time express service on the #28. "This is the best solution for the resources that we have," CTA spokesman Sheila Gregory said. Gregory stressed that any changes remain "experimental" until a CTA board vote. The route shift highlight continued fine-tuning of large-route reconfigurations instituted last August to improve downtown access for the South lakefront.

Continued tinkering with routes is sowing confusion, longtime Hyde Parker Claude Weil said. "I think [these changes] will create confusion, especially among seniors," said the 72-year-old Weil. In addition, Weil said the CTA does not consult the community enough and should take a lesson from the scriptures.

"When no counsel is taken plans miscarry, but when there are many advisors they succeed,'" Weil said quoting Proverbs 15:22...

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Statement on the current bus and transit situation April, 2004 by Transit Task Force chairman James Withrow from the Spring HPKCC Reporter [April/May 2004]

Transit Changes (Again!)

The CTA Board voted on Wednesday, April 14th, to "enhance" the bus routes in Hyde Park again. The new plan will take place sometime in June--the CTA has not yet announced a specific date. The reconfigured routes will put the #15 Jeffery Local back on Hyde Park Blvd. The #28 Stony Island will return to Lake Park Blvd., but will stop at 47th St. There will be a new #28X Stony Island Express that will run only during rush hours and will remain on Hyde Park Blvd. While Hyde Park gains back the direct bus connection between 47th St and 55th St along Lake Park, we lose half of the non-rush routes to the Loop. You can check out this link for the CTA's story: http://www.yourcta.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=100697

This will be the third change in Hyde Park's bus routes since September, so it may be a good time to review what's happened. In August of 2003, the CTA announced an ambitious plan to improve bus service in southeast Chicago. This plan was developed with practically no public input, announced shortly before implementation, and inadequately explained to the community. It was paternalistically deemed an "experiment", as if CTA planners were scientists and riders were research subjects. This is despite the fact that riders make important life decisions based on bus routes--like where to work and where to rent an apartment.

Nonetheless, the Hyde Park Transit Task Force endorsed the CTA plan. We knew that there would be some implementation problems, but some nice advantages, too (for instance, we now have a direct connection with the South Shore Cultural Center). Increasing service on the #14 is a large advantage for our neighbors to the south because now they can travel to the Loop without going thru Hyde Park. The biggest improvement for Hyde Park, though, was a second express route to the Loop with the lengthening of the #28 Stony Island.

One other advantage of the improved #28 was that a Hyde Parker could catch it in the Loop and get off in front of the Co-op on Lake Park, buy groceries, and walk home. The CTA scuttled that option in December when it changed the route of the #28 so that it would instead travel down Hyde Park Blvd instead of Lake Park. The #15 Jeffery Local was moved to Lake Park Blvd.

This December switching of the #28 and #15 routes was again foisted onto our community without public hearings. Our aldermen opposed it. The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce opposed it. The Hyde Park Transit Task Force opposed it. And, again, this switch was deemed an "experiment".

The primary reason for the change was that there were not enough morning rush hour buses on Hyde Park Blvd. It was obvious that short buses running every 10-13 minutes during the morning rush hour would not be enough. A few articulated buses running from just south of the Museum of Science & Industry would have taken care of this problem. To the CTA's credit, that seems to be what they're doing now, but changing the routes was overkill and deprived central Hyde Park of a bus route to the Loop.

Of course, it's commendable that the CTA wanted to correct a mistake they made with the first set of bus route changes. Unfortunately, the cure was worse than the disease. This third set of changes is an admission that the CTA planners made another mistake with the second round of bus route changes. Somehow, they now think that cutting in half our non-rush-hour routes to the Loop will remedy these past mistakes. I’m skeptical.

At this point, let me make clear what I'm ranting against. It's not that CTA's planners have made a mistake, which they subsequently acknowledged. Or even a second mistake, which they're now acknowledging. I'm not even that upset that they're now embarking on a third mistake. Planners are like any human beings; we all make mistakes. My rant here is that these planners have decided to make their mistakes not in the planning phase of these changes, but rather in the implementation stage. These "experimental" bus routes again disrupt our lives without any significant public involvement.

So, what's a public transportation advocacy group to do? We already have one citywide organization that criticizes the CTA relentlessly. Is this productive? Maybe a little. But it feeds into an unfortunate cycle. The CTA consistently utilizes a DAD approach, rather than a POP approach. DAD stands for “Design, Announce, Defend.” POP would be a “People-Oriented Process.” Because the CTA has no place for public involvement in the design phase of these changes, all the public can do is criticize. The criticism then makes the CTA even less enthusiastic about involving the public. This vicious cycle can only be changed if the CTA involves the public in the process so that the public will share ownership of necessary changes.

The larger problems the CTA has are related to its relative paucity of resources. For over 20 years, the state of Illinois has required the CTA to get half its operating revenue from the farebox. Compared to most other urban areas, this is a high percentage. Cities like Los Angeles, Houston, Boston and Washington DC are far more generous to their public transportation authorities. The CTA provides a good service on a shoestring.

But, why should the taxpayers of Illinois or Cook County or even the City of Chicago be more generous to an agency that usually elicits complaints and hostility? How could we change the political climate so that the riders and other citizens of Chicago spend more time bragging about the CTA, thus enhancing the prospect for more generous subsidies and increased ridership? What would it take for citizens and the CTA to work as partners to improve public transportation in Chicago instead of fighting each other?

I think we have a model to work from. For the last few years, the Chicago Transportation and Air Quality Commission has been hosting a series of workshops to address basic transportation needs in our region. The workshops give citizens the chance to work in small groups to suggest improvements; we could hold such a workshop to begin this process in Hyde Park.

On Wednesday, May 26th, at 7pm, the Hyde Park Transit Task Force will host a workshop at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 South Kimbark Avenue. There will be no impassioned speeches, no naming names of enemies, and no food or prizes. Instead, we'll work together to identify what our neighborhood wants from the CTA, so that we can speak with one voice. For details, check out www.hydepark.org (click on Transit News).

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Letter to the Herald from Gary Ossewaarde re workshop objectives May 2004

To the Editor:

The first in a series of bus route and CTA service workshops was held May 26 by the Hyde Park Transit Task Force, jointly sponsored by Alderman Leslie Hairston, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, and the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference’s Transit Committee. The workshops are held at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club.

Our lively participants found much to agree upon but feel we need the views and ideas of many more of our neighbors before we reach a consensus plan we can recommend to CTA in the coming months.

The third changes in a year for routes #15 and #28 go into effect June 20. Many concerns have been voiced and many have signed petitions (most notably patrons of the Hyde Park Co-Op Markets) about effects of previous changes on peoples’ lives. The new changes create further complication. The changes are, however, a six-month trial, which gives riders and the affected communities time to review and recommend.

Through the workshops and other means, the Aldermen, the Task Force, and the Conference are seeking broad public participation in conversation about the changes, other aspects of CTA service, and how CTA gathers public input into planning—what riders like and dislike, and new ideas.

The Task Force has prepared a Hyde Park Bus Rider’s Route Survey that we need to have as many local riders as possible fill in and return. These are initially available from the Conference. Call 773 288-8343 or e-mail hpkcc@aol.com.

Please watch for our next, mid-summer workshop. For information or to express your views, please call the 4th Ward Office (773 536-8103), the 5th Ward Office (773 324-5555), or the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (773 288-8343).

For Task Force information about bus and other transit issues visit www.hydepark.org, Transit News. And thanks from the entire Task Force.

Gary M. Ossewaarde, Secretary, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

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_____________________________________________________

HPKCC member Gordon R. McCoy wrote us the following letter of analysis supporting the current arrangement (#28 on Hyde Park Blvd., going to Union Station, and of course all days early morning through late evening.) The letter subsequently appeared in the April 14, 2004 Herald; it's writing predated knowledge of the latest changes. See later on the two letters for and against the routes as reconfigured in December 2003.

I am grateful to the CTA for establishing the new route currently utilized for Stony Island Express #28. It is very helpful. I think the new service and route is absolutely super. I board this bus regularly, including Sunday mornings, form Hyde Park Blvd. at 56th Street where I reside. I take the bus all the way to the end of the route at Union Station. There, I board the Metra to Elgin where I am employed by a church.

But it isn't just about me. The new route, along Hyde Park Blvd. then expressing to the loop and Union Station, accomplishes the following:

  • In Hyde Park, Express Route #28 serves an extremely high-density residential area, the highest density on the South Side. This corridor is more similar than any other on the South Side to the Sheridan Road/Marine Drive corridor on the North Side that is served by several express buses. It is therefore a good and sound decision to provide equal service to the South Side high-density high-rise corridor as well. Many residents on this corridor have chosen to reside here precisely because of the excellent public transportation to the Loop. The residential areas west of the current route, where #28 formerly ran, are comparatively low-density areas.
  • The current route also serves East Hyde Park businesses, restaurants and stores on 55th Street and 53rd Street. These are locally-owned businesses whose income and survival is dependent on easy access by customers and employees. Unlike the businesses further west along the former route, these businesses have no private parking lots. This is, again, a reflection of the density of this corridor. The businesses served by the current route are located east and west from Hyde Park Blvd., on both streets for several blocks and would not be adequately served it the current route were to be altered.
  • I especially thank you for extending the current route to Union Station. This provides a much easier connection to Metra lines that take South Siders to their jobs in the North and West suburbs. In a perfect world, those jobs would be here in the South Side, but the reality is, they are not; and the best solution is to ease our way in getting where we need to go to be employed. As I am sure you are aware, reverse commuting from city to suburb has increased markedly. One can look, for example, at the huge number of persons boarding Metra on weekday mornings in the city and getting off at Lake -Cook Road, where a fleet of Pace "shuttlebugs" takes Chicagoans to their suburban workplaces. By providing the Stony Island Express #28 service to Union Station, you have effectively opened up employment possibilities to thousands of South/Southeast Side persons.

    My only concern about #28 is that the new and improved route and service is proving so popular that the buses are sometimes standing room only. This will only increase as more and more South Siders become aware of the new route.

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Roger Deschner has yet another solution, in addition to opposing cutback in #28 express hours

An Open Letter to the CTA Board. As in Hyde Park Herald, April 28, 2004

I am a frequent passenger on the #28 Stony Island Express bus between Hyde Park and Downtown. This new route has been a great new service, and now you will be cutting it back to rush hour only. Direct service between Union Station and Hyde Park, at all except "owl" hours, was a tremendous advantage. I could make it all the way from Hyde Park to Aurora, for instance, with just one transfer at Union Station itself. It was also a boon for air travelers--the #28 connected directly with the Blue Line to O'Hare at Dearborn Street, eliminating a 3-block walk (with luggage!) from the #6 on Michigan Avenue.

And now, as of your April 14th announcement, you're eliminating it. Please reconsider --leave the new #28 as it is now.

Furthermore, currently the #28 bus runs later (1:40 a.m.) from Downtown to Hyde Park than the #6 (1:00 a.m.). Will the last bus time on the #6 be extended? All-night service on the #6 would be really good--and would probably attract a lot of riders. The #4N, #55, and the Metra Electric Line, do not provide adequate "get home late at night" service.

I think it will be really perplexing to riders to have the #X28 and #28 running different routes. People will board a bus down south on Stony Island, heading fo Hyde Park, and not know where they're going to wind up. These buses should run the same route. The #28, #X28, and #6 should all operate on Lake Park Avenue, now that the #15 will be returned to Hyde Park Blvd between 57th and 51st.

Moving the #X28 and #6 to Lake Park Avenue between 57th and 51st would also reduce the present noisy "bus glut" on Hyde Park Blvd., which is a residential street. According to your plans, Hyde Park Blvd will now carry the #15, the #X28, and an increased number of #6 buses. That sounds like quite a few more buses disturbing the peace of this formerly-quiet residential boulevard. Adequate service to South Hyde Park Blvd. can be provided by the #15 bus alone. All the other buses should operate on Lake Park Avenue, through the business corridor, and through an area where noise is not an issue. Furthermore, traffic moves faster on Lake Park than on Hyde Park, so these busses should experience a time savings for people traveling through Hyde Park en route to Downtown. Moving the express buses two blocks west to Lake Park will also bring this good express service closer to the population center of the Hyde Park community.

In the June 30 Herald, Mr. Deschner wrote the following:

Though it had been rumored for some time, with statements made and then withdrawn, the CTA announced in a Press Release on its website today June 17, that the proposed bus route changes in Hyde Park would take effect on Sunday June 10, just one working day after the announcement. Echoes of Meigs Field?

There will be mass confusion, as service on the #28 Downtown to Union Station is reduced to just rush hours, as the #28 and the #15 switch routes, as rush hour #28 buses split and take two different routes through the neighborhood, as as even more buses choke once-quiet South Hyde Park Boulevard. People will be left deserted Downtown late at night, since the last bus home will now be as much as 45 minutes earlier. All this done with so little prior announcement as to be almost in secret.

Call the CTA and your alderman today to object to this blitzkrieg service cutback and rearrangement.

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Too many buses on S. Hyde Park Blvd.? Bonnie Brendel thinks so

[Other letters with the same view have appeared in the Herald.]

Hyde Park Herald, June 9, 2004.

Bus traffic on South Hyde Park Boulevard is at best hazardous and sometimes safety-compromising.

As a homeowner on the southwest corner of 55th Street and Hyde Park Boulevard, I witness the constant presence of buses, whether arriving, departing, or idling at the stop only about 20 feet from my bedroom window. As you can imagine, the exhaust, passenger noise and ubiquitous loud destination recordings (i.e. "This is J[ackson Park Express], Route 6, going to 79th and South Shore Drive") at all hours of the day and night are most disturbing.

The buses are traveling down a narrow two-lane residential boulevard. They include numbers 6, 55 and 55X, 28X (soon) and University of Chicago 171 and 173. In the meantime, Lake Park Avenue (a recently updated four lane paved business street only two blocks to the west) is underutilized.

The number 55 turns from 55th Street onto Hyde Park, up and over lawns and recently installed sidewalks (when headed south) because there is simply not enough clearance for a normal bus to turn.

And now I am informed that the bus service, rather than being alleviated, will, with summer's advent, be further increased. Please give us some respite. Hyde Park Boulevard, I stress, is a residential street. I am a frequent user of CTA services. I am grateful that Hyde Park is as comfortably serviced by public transportation as it is. But I would certainly be willing to face the minor inconvenience of walking west two blocks were the present noise, dirt and exhaust and traffic safety issues to be lessened.

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More from Brendel: Residential buses cause much pollution

To the Editor, July 14, 1004

Thank you for your response to my recent letter regarding bus traffic on South Hyde Park Boulevard. My letter...engendered quite a response, most of it supportive. The CTA response spoke to the environmental responsibility of urban bus transportation and questioned the purported increase in bus traffic. I am coming from a residential viewpoint---a resident living on a residential tree-lined, two-laned boulevard.

Seven bus lines stop in front of my home--the #6, #15, #55, #55X, #171 and #173 [she forgot 28X to make the 7]. Most come with the new, and loud announcement system telling of the vehicle's destination. Hours on at least one line have been extended.

The CTA response letter emphasized environmental pluses of public transportation, pluses of which I am well aware (i.e. the bus takes the place of about 30 private vehicles, this decreasing cumulative noxious emanations). Great--but these 30 vehicles would most likely not be traveling and stopping about 24 feet from my open bedroom window. The direct and dense black clouds from emissions have to be experienced to be believed.

Noise pollution, air pollution, pollution engendered by passengers--all on a residential corner. Please give us a break. Bonnie A. Brendel

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CTA lost sight of Hyde Park, says Task Force workshop participant Bonnie Fields

(However, the HPKCC office receives at least as many communications strongly protesting move of routes from Hyde Park to Lake Park as vice versa.)

With great relief I read the letter to the editor by Bonnie Brendel (in the June 0 issue of the Herald) saying that "enough is too much already" regarding all the buses being routed on Hyde Park Blvd. east of Lake Park (Avenue) and to the Museum of Science and Industry.

I've lived on East Hyde Park Boulevard for 35 years and have observed the bus traffic increase to intolerable amounts. Two weeks ago on a Tuesday evening, I sat on my balcony and counted the number of buses going both north and south on East Hyde Park Blvd. during a period of time from 5:20 to 6:20 pm. There were 32 buses passing in that one hour's time, more than necessary to carry people through that particular stretch of road. Now add to that the new noise assault of half those buses having systems that loudly call out the bus number and destination directly into our living spaces. The calling out of the final destination information is of little help to anyone unfamiliar with the bus route and only serves to add t0 the overburdening of noise pollution already abounding.

The new Number 28 buses are the worst offenders with the sound directed straight out from the side of the bus into our homes. Whereas the Number 6 buses have a cap which pushes the sound downward and are somewhat less offensive.

I think the CTA has lost sight of this particular area of Hyde Park as being mainly residential and a boulevard. I call for more routing of buses on Lake Park avenue. I use the bus and would be more than willing to walk a few blocks to take Number 28 or the Number 15 local.

Leave the Number 6 on the boulevard, as in the past, and thus give many of us a chance to enjoy our own homes without the assault of the "screaming buses".

I urge more residents to attend the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transportation Task Force and speak their minds on this and other transportation issues in Hyde Park. The meetings are well thought out, organized and productive.

However, Sandra Morrison says "Buses should stay on S. Hyde Park Blvd.

To the Editor [Hyde Park Herald, July 21, 2004]

I live close to 55th Street on Hyde Park Boulevard as an earlier letter writer does. The following is my perspective. For close to 20 years there were at least two buses on Hyde Park Boulevard, the #1 and the #6, probably because there is no access to Lake Park Avenue from Hyde Park Boulevard at either 54th or 52nd Streets. Therefore, for a significant segment of the East Hyde Park community (many of whom are seniors) it is not really just two or three short blocks to Lake Park.

Further, before the Museum of Science and Industry destroyed the parking lot at 57th Street, some #6 buses started there in the morning rush hour and were almost full by 51st Street, which means there is as significant population using the bus. also with the discontinuance of the #2 it seems appropriate to route another bus down Hyde Park Boulevard to the Loop. In addition, some seniors have difficulty enough climbing on one bus, without having to attempt stairs at an "el" station or transferring to several buses or walking distances to Lake Park.

The 55th Street bus has also been in use for more than 20 years. It serves at a minimum two "el" stations (for those who need a train), a park field house, a high school and nearby shopping centers. The #55X has added buses for our highly mobile population and it seems ungracious to mind accommodating them (with the airport at the end of the line) especially since others also benefit, as it is a limited express.

It is correct that some of the proliferation of buses in the last few years has occurred because we now accommodate U. of C. students, for whom we should be grateful as the students are in aging housing stock that could become a breeding ground for crime if not occupied and properly managed. I also appreciate those buses for they serve as well those of us attending U. of C. events or visiting the hospital.

The point made in a previous letter regarding the amount of pollution may well be true, but that really is a circumstance to be expected in cities where you have, want and expect amenities such as our bus service (as opposed to suburbs with little or no public transportation.) Finally, our neighborhood would become even more congested and parking more scarce if those of us who can afford a car should find the public transportation too inconvenient.

The noise of the announcements is another matter. I too hear them and would appreciate having the decibel level lowered, but not by removing the buses.

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The following series of 2005 letters is from Mr. Terry Levin, CTA VP Customer Service, Sandra Morrison (HPKCC member), and Transit Task Force member Judy Chernick.

The first is a CTA reply to a letter from Ms. Brendel in the Herald, from Levin, February 2, 2005. The Task Force objects to the claim of unanimous support for the current routings, noting not only results of its workshops but abundant testimony at a hearing at South Shore Cultural Center September 2004 and the strongly-worded letters of both our aldermen heeding concerns of shoppers (esp. of the Co-op) and high-rise dwellers. The outcry CTA cites is also, we suspect, mainly early in the game when the #6 was virtually crippled. It should be noted that letters disagreeing with some of the views stated by Brendel (wanting most buses off HPB) were printed in the interim in the Herald. There is a deep, probably irresolvable difference of interest between segments of residents over some of these issues, some of this coming from an imbalance in density that leads to the center of the neighborhood being overlooked vis a vis downtown routes. Note also that CTA has been only partially successful in balancing the volume of the enunciators.

Dear Ms. Brandel:

Thank you for your complaint to CTA President Frank Kruesi. There are no current plans to change the routings of the buses you mentioned and the feedback we've received from the local community clearly favors maintaining South Hyde Park Boulevard as a major artery for bus service. In fact, when we moved the X28 to Lake Park Avenue, ridership dropped and we received protests from customers wanting it back.

We regret you are being disturbed by the exterior announcements on the buses, though they should not be audible unless the front doors are opening to board or disembark a customer. These announcements were designed to assist people who are blind or have impaired vision know the route an destination of an arriving bus and are of greatest importance on streets where there are multiple routes.

The volume of these announcements is supposed to be variable, automatically increasing and decreasing based on the amount of noise in the immediate surrounding area. If there is a case where the volume is out of alignment, we try to locate t he bus and have it repaired. If you hear a volume you believe is too loud, though it must be audible to people at the stop, please try to take note of the day, time and what route is being announced and we will do our best to identify the vehicle and have it inspected.

Our goal is not to disturb you but to provide a service that is essential for some of our customers with disabilities. Hopefully we will be able to do so in a way that causes you the absolute minimum of concern. Thank you again for your complaint and please feel welcome to report any specific instance so we can check it out.

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To the Editor. From Sandra A. Morrison. February 2, 2005

The issue of a bus route on a residential street is irrelevant as there are many Chicago bus routes on residential streets. ..some of us chose this particular street for the convenience of public transportation.

The other issue is that abutting a commercial corridor we have businesses on two of the four corners as there are at 53rd street. So it is not strictly speaking just residential. In addition, over the businesses on many commercial streets there are living quarters and many of the buses vent at t he top of the bus, so I'm not sure why it should be a bigger deal when the pollution is on a residential street.

I sympathize with a recent writer regarding the trash the students leave, but surely she wouldn't think there should be no convenient public transportation to schools? Regarding the University of Chicago buses, I doubt that they make more pollution than the belching school buses that could be used. The #171 and #172 buses can and do allow neighborhood individuals to have transportation to the university and its events.

The announcements are loud and I admit are something new she couldn't have been expected to anticipate and I could understand her lobbying for an adjustment. I, however, feel the bus service to the community in general and to the many seniors (may of whom we don't want behind the wheel of a car) far outweighs the complaints of a few. s

Since theRe are so many other housing options in a city like Chicago...

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From Terry Levin, CTA to Judy M. Chernick, February 28, 2005.

Chicago Transit Authority Executive Vice President Richard N. Winston received your recent letter recommending the #15 Jeffery bus be moved from Hyde Park Boulevard to Stony Island and Lake Park between 57th and 51st streets. We very much appreciate your feedback and the great amount of thoughtful detail that went into your request.

As you know, CTA did reroute the #15 buses onto Lake Park Avenue in December 2003 as part of our comprehensive updating of the South Lake Shore bus routes. Unfortunately, this did not prove popular with our customers and we had to move it back. Although your Transit Task Force did not receive any complaints while the #15 buses were on Lake Park Avenue, we received a great deal of feedback from our customers that had to be considered, along with our own ridership data.

The situation on Hyde Park Boulevard is very similar. When we first deigned the new bus routings through Hyde Park, our intention was to create a second major bus corridor on Lake Park Avenue, including the new #28 route going all the way downtown. However our customers in your community made it very clear--both in direct feedback and in their ridership patterns--that they very much want the majority of buses on Hyde Park Boulevard and, in fact, enjoy the convenience of being able to transfer among these overlapping routes.

Even though your current request asks us to go back to a routing that was unsuccessfully tried last year, the CTA never considers its routes and schedules to be permanent. We recognize that ridership patterns change and evolve over time and that a transit agency needs to be flexible in recognizing and addressing these changes. In that regard, Mr. Winston has forwarded your concerns to his planning department officials so your points can be considered as all the data on these current routings is updated and re-evaluated.

In the meantime, we must hope you can understand how the CTA must work to best match our routes and schedules to the needs and desires of our customers, whose feedback on the Hyde Park service clearly shows a preference for the current routings after trying out several variations over the past 18 months. Thank you again for your recommendation, which will be very seriously considered.

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From Judy M. Chernick to Terry A. Levin, CTA VP Customer Service, March 18, 2005

Thank you for your February 28 letter and your assurance that the recommendation in my February 15 letter to CTA Executive Vice President Richard N. Winston will be seriously considered....

The routing of the #6 Jackson Park Express and X28 Stony Island Express on South Hyde Park Boulevard is very popular, and both of these routes are heavily used by residents in this densely populated section of our neighborhood. The #6 bus routing is of long standing, and the additional #X28 weekday rush-hour service is very successful and greatly appreciated not only for providing alternative service west through downtown and on to Union Station but also as a critically effective supplement to #6 capacity.

The #15 Jeffery Local is a different matter. I request that CTA planning staff carefully review the figures for riders boarding and exiting the #15 Jeffery Local along the segment of Hyde Park Boulevard between Cornell Avenue and 56th Street. I don't doubt that there are riders along this portion of the route traveling to and from destinations along East Hyde Park Boulevard who complained about having to transfer during the period the replacement to the former #1 bus service was routed on Stony Island Avenue. Any change will inconvenience some riders. However, I believe the CTA will discover that this is a small number of riders, and that the overall needs and desires of local citizens would be better served were the #15 routed along Stony Island Avenue instead of South Hyde Park Boulevard.

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit Task Force also is working hard to identify the best match of routes and schedules for local residents. The Transit Task Force publicized its workshops broadly, and the consensus about the problems caused by routing the #15 on South Hyde Park Boulevard was stunningly remarkable. We hope the CTA will give serious attention to the results of our workshops and will draw on our knowledge of community transit usage--and our credibility in the community--in the future.

Would you please forward this letter to Mr. Winston and to the planning department officials you mention? Thank you!

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Other bus material

University of Chicago students dissatisfied with route 55 night service obtained a trial run, for spring 2004 quarter, of a shuttle between the Dan Ryan Red Line at 55th and Reynolds Club. Results were mixed, and many in the university community had mixed feelings about this direction. In winter 2005, the University instead leaned further in its direction of broadly based and shared community-university services through CTA with a beefed up #173 that it hoped would re-draw customers to that service, especially should CTA drastically cut back routes.

Pay attention on our downtown routes when boarding in the Loop-South Loop especially- several have been modified. Stay tuned.