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December 2003 revisions to the South Lakefront route experiment (not the last) and Task Force evaluations

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit and Parking Committee and the HPKCC website, www.hydepark.org
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The routes as enacted at the end of 2003.

#2 Hyde Park Express. Buses will substitute State and Balbo for the Michigan and Congress legs between State-Congress and Michigan-Balbo. Reason: reduce turns and traffic delays.
#6 Jackson Park Express. Southbound will continue south on State to Balbo thence east rather than turning east on Congress then south on Michigan to Balbo. Reason: reduce turns and traffic delays.

#15 Jeffery Local. Use Lake Park rather than Hyde Park Blvd. between 51st and 56th. Reason: speedy, efficient, more direct service.

#28 Stony Island Express. Divert to Hyde Park Blvd. rather than use Lake Park between 56th and 51st. Reason: improve (translation: restore) downtown travel options for customers and reduce (tr. route-change induced) overcrowding on #6.

Eliminate the rush hour leg to the West Side Medical Center. Reason: underutilization, reliability problems from the Loop.

Last two northbound night trips to terminate at 47th (affecting post-midnight service).

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The CTA is Proposing to Change our Bus Routes again on Dec 7 [2003]-An Analysis by James Withrow, Acting Chairman, HPKCC Transit Task Force

The appropriate CTA weblink for this proposal: http://www.yourcta.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=118766

(Summary below, as to HPKCC board December 6, 2003)

The Hyde Park Transit Task Force is not aware of any scheduled public hearings on this matter and no one from the CTA informed us, the Community Conference, Alderman Leslie Hairston or our Chamber of Commerce about this change. The Alderman is on record as being against the Hyde Park portion of this.

While the CTA's proposal addresses overcrowding on #6 buses going north from Hyde Park, it does nothing to fix the overcrowding of #6 buses departing from the Loop. The Hyde Park Transit Task Force recommends that the #28 be re-routed so that it would take in traditional #6 stops along State Street from Washington to Van Buren. Currently, there is no corner along State Street where you can wait for both buses. The #28 crosses State Street at Jackson, but the stop is at a different corner from the #6 stop.

What's changed?

First, the small stuff. The #2 and #6 routes will be slightly changed downtown. Southbound trips will turn from State onto Balbo, instead of cutting across on Congress and then traveling down Michigan Ave to Balbo.

Now, the major change. The CTA wants to swap the routes the #15 and #28 take thru Hyde Park.

The new #15 Jeffery Local would no longer travel along South Hyde Park Blvd, but would instead go up Stony Island to 56th St, cut across to Lake Park and then turn onto East Hyde Park Blvd on its way to the 47th St Red Line station.

The #28 would go north and then west on Hyde Park Blvd, traveling on Lake Park only between HP Blvd and 47th St before heading for the Loop.

The CTA feels that this change would better serve East Hyde Park because two bus routes would travel South Hyde Park Blvd toward the Loop. We don't dispute that or the notion that the #6 is still overcrowded. However, we have a few worries about this route change.

First of all, these are significant. The old #6 Jeffery traveled up from 103rd along Jeffery Ave and then along South Hyde Park Blvd. The #28, for years, has traveled up Stony Island and gone past the Hyde Park Business District along Lake Park. Sometimes, public transportation can be greatly improved by changing bus routes, but when changing routes, there should be an important goal accomplished that can not be accomplished by other less drastic changes. People have longstanding habits and have sometimes made important life decisions-like where to rent an apartment or even where to take employment-- based on how bus routes are laid out.

While we're glad the CTA realizes that the agency underestimated the #6's ridership, we would prefer that the agency consider less drastic alternatives. In the mornings, perhaps some additional #6 buses could begin at the Museum of Science and Industry. Maybe some of the #15 buses could turn into the #6 at the MSI. More articulated #6 buses would help, too.

The Transit Task Force is especially concerned about the effect this route change might have on our Business District. Under either scenario, only one route is going to travel Lake Park past that Co-op and 53rd St. Given a choice between a local bus that travels up Jeffery or an Express bus to the Loop that travels up Stony Island, we prefer the #28. It's not only a matter of longstanding habits, but also what we feel will be a bright future for ridership on the #28 once more people begin to use it to go to the Loop.

And we're also concerned about those who live in the area bounded by Lake Park, 52nd St, Woodlawn, and 56th St. The August bus route changes brought a Loop-bound bus closer to those who live in Central Hyde Park. In most densely-populated areas of Chicago, there are north-south bus routes every 5 blocks. Not so in Hyde Park.

A person living at 54th and Kimbark currently has a five-block walk to catch the #28 to the Loop or a seven-block walk to Cottage Grove to catch the #4. This person would now have an 8-block walk to catch the #28 at 53rd and South Hyde Park, partly due to the barrier of the Metra tracks. That's not fair to ask.

The Hyde Park Transit Task Force welcomes input from neighborhood residents and stakeholders. Please contact us via e-mail at Withrow@uchicago.edu.

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As summarized in the HPKCC Board meeting, December 6, 2003

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Further discussion


Chicago Transit Authority will institute significant modifications in the new routes on December 7, again with little community input. For example, Alderman Hairston's main request before the announcement of the modifications c. November 5 (on CTA's website!) was for transfer of half the articulated buses on routes 14 and 15 back to the 6--partially accomplished. Alderman Preckwinkle, we understand, mainly asked improvements and route restorations on the 4 Cottage Grove. The HPKCC Transit Task Force is submitting reservations about flipping the 15 and 28 on their respective routes on Lake Park and Hyde Park. Alderman Hairston has strongly opposed the 15 and 28 changes (including to Chairperson Carole Brown), insisting that the changes (and alternating long and short buses) are mistakes and the wrong remedy for solving #6 overcrowding, bunching, and delays. She also opposes routing the #28 east on 56th from Stony at Bret Harte School. At last word, a CTA person in charge held a long discussion with Ald. Hairston's office.

The changes were put into effect. Lots of central Hyde Parkers and long-time users of the 28, as well as new users of the 15 were upset. In the first week or so no difference was made for HP Blvd. users of the 6. Ald. Hairston's office will be doing a more extensive investigation of how the changes are working out. Alderman Preckwinkle sent a strong letter of disapproval. The Co-op's Carl Waggoner gripped and set employees to gathering petition signatures and the Chamber of Commerce is said to be sending a letter. On the other hand the Evergreen advised "ride on to the 47th store." Trips in the late afternoon have noticeably lengthened because Hyde Park Blvd. is so clogged with traffic.

Analysis of changes, by Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC

To table of changes

#2. Probably an improvement.

#6. Probably an improvement. We still hope for increased restoration of a mix of articulated buses to #6 as asked by Alderman Hairston, whether or not the changes in the #28 are instituted.

#15. Probably an improvement for "through" riders, but would be some inconvenience for persons in East Hyde Park going to the Jeffery corridor or locally west then/or north of Hyde Park.

#28. The change to a Hyde Park Blvd. side leg will slow trips on what promised to be a faster way downtown and back and strand/disillusion riders in central Hyde Park as well as businesses, including Hyde Park Shopping Center and 53rd Street--a transit-oriented development corridor. This seems a "sudden fix" for the #6 mess that should be delayed (and the mess treated with other measures) until proven absolutely necessary, this writer suggests. Since this pits needs of one set of riders against another, this writer (GMO) suggested a public meeting with CTA on the issue. (Such a meeting is highly unlikely.)

While the CTA desire to cut an unproductive leg to the West Side Medical Center is understandable, riders have told this writer this cut would be very hard on veterans and seniors and is premature because the buses should have made the loop all day and planned the stops better (the center is large).

Terminating the midnight and later runs on the #28 would be retrograde and defeat one of the option and ridership-building purposes of the new service.

Other options are not explored for ridership-building and fixing the #6 delays and overcrowding such as returning into the Loop via Washington rather than Jackson and then going south on State (intercepting more persons coming from the north, northwest and Loop and more #6 riders) before using Balbo. (This could continue to use Congress and Michigan.)

Problems for people going north to IIT, Illinois College of Optometry, Michael Reese/Advocate are not addressed.

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A critical letter: CTA drops lump of coal in Hyde Park stockings

Hyde Park Herald, January 7, 2004. By E. M. Christian

To the Editor:

The CTA sent unwelcome holiday greetings to Hyde Park recently. At a time when community businesses are most dependent upon optimal sales, and citizens are ea gar to conveniently conduct local shopping trips, the CTA announced the elimination of a major source of public transportation serving Hyde Park's shopping district.

The Stony Island #28 bus once connected the major shopping streets in Hyde Park: from 57th Street (one block away) all the way to 47th Street. It also allowed communities neighboring Hyde Park access to our shopping areas. With a Scrooge-inspired "bah, humbug," the CTA's Grinch-like heart grew many sizes smaller as they re-routed the #28 so that it now runs along the primarily residential street of Hyde Park Blvd. With no fanfare, and without consulting with those who actually ride it, the #28 was joined up with all the many other CTA road motor vehicles running north to south in Hyde Park. Now when there's a bus crunch, it's several blocks long. Now there are even more opportunities to pay an express fare for the dubious pleasure of being packed onto a bus like sardines in a can, and less chance of getting a seat!

I'm surprised that the residents on Hyde Park Blvd. are not upset that their street has now become the CTA's super highway. Also, why aren't Hyde Park's merchants and community leaders protesting this CTA change for the worse? Why aren't residents to the west of Hyde Park Blvd. complaining that their public transportation needs are continually overlooked? So far, I've only noticed one business, the Hyde Park Co-Op Markets, expressing concern and taking action. (The Co-op Markets are collecting petition signatures, from all those who are opposed to the CTA's array decision, because it affects Co-op employees as well as patrons.)

Meanwhile, in various Hyde Park shop windows, the desperate signs of low sales are vying with the holiday stet decorations for attention. The overall effect is not particularly festive. Wasn't it bad enough to leave most of Hyde Park's major bus stops without any of the new shelters (when other communities have shelters at nearly every stop along their primary bus routes)? How is it possible, for example, that there's not one single shelter along 55th Street in Hyde Park when one can typically be left waiting 30 to 45 minutes for a bus? Still, little did Hyde Parkers guess that the CTA intended to deprive us of even more service this winter.

Yes, as the old year ends, the CTA is definitely Hyde Park's bad Santa. Hyde Park can only hope that the new year will bring about a change of heart.

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Riders voice frustration over route changes to #28

Hyde Park Herald, March 10, 2004. By Mike Stevens.
[Claude Weil is a member of HPKCC who has given tips and advice to the Transit Task Force and is a board member of the Hyde Park Historical Society. James Withrow is chairman of the HPKCC Transit Task Force.]

The Chicago Transit Authority has extended its trial period to August for route changes along the South Lake Shore, which includes the #28 Stony Island Express. The CTA recently shifted the #28 route east of the Metra tracks two blocks, from Lake Park Avenue to Hyde Park Boulevard between 57th and 51st Streets.

The change, made in December to alleviate overcrowding on the #6 Jackson Park Express, leaves Lake Park Avenue without direct bus service downtown.

"Obviously, the changes are totally negative from my perspective," said longtime Hyde Parker Claude Weil, who lives off Lake Park Avenue and rode the #28 to get downtown. The 72-year-old Weil now faces long walks with bags of groceries to Hyde Park Boulevard and 55th Street.

In an effort to improve downtown bus service, the Chicago Transit Authority made the #28 an express last August. But over-crowding during the morning rush on the #6 route, which travels Hyde Park Boulevard, led to he recent route change, according to CTA.

The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and both 4th and 5th Ward aldermen oppose the route shift, according to James Withrow of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.

Critics complain the route change moves downtown bus service an additional two blocks away for central Hyde Parkers. They also point out the move doubles up existing express routes on Hyde Park Blvd. Meanwhile, Lake Park Avenue, a commercial corridor, is left without direct downtown bus service.

"The problems [the route change] were trying to solve, namely overcrowding on the #6 in the morning could have been fixed another way," Withrow said. He suggested instead increase in the size and number of buses on the #6 route during the morning rush.

"We are aware of the wishes of some of those in the community and continue to look into how those routes could better meet the needs of the customer," said CTA spokesman Robyn Zeigler. Zeigler said any changes are experimental and ongoing tweaking of routes reflect efforts to improve overall service. "Before the routes become permanent it has to be approved by the [CTA Board]," Ziegler said.

CTA officials evaluate routes by how many people ride the bus, where they get on and off as well as public feedback, Ziegler said. In August, the CTA will either extend the trial period, make further adjustments or recommend the changes be made permanent.

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