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January 27, 2004 Southeast Corridor transit hearing and some proposals for improvement

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit and Parking Committee and the HPKCC website,
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Partially as a follow up to a Southeast Chicago Transit confab hosted in September 2003 by Campaign for Better Transit, the SECRET coalition (including HPKCC Transit Task Force) and State Rep. Constance Howard, and meetings by SECRET (South East Chicago Rail Enhancement Team) with Rep. Barbara Currie and Sen. Barack Obama, a hearing by the House Transit Subcommittee was convened by Reps. Julie Hamos and Constance Howard at Olive-Harvey College (101 and Woodlawn) January 27. Other reasons were the strong concerns of Senator Obama and Congressman Jesse Jackson about Metra service and amenities and possible discrimination against or neglect of the South Side, and the struggle of Olive-Harvey College, which is transit-strapped. Representative Currie was unable to attend, Alderman Leslie Hairston sat in briefly.

CTA President Frank Kruesi and spokesmen and a spokesperson for Metra described what their agencies are doing and planning for the Southeast Side. Many, including Alderman Hairston, SECRET, Neighborhood Capital Budget Group/Campaign for Better Transit, and SECRET submitted written testimony. A very large array of residents and organization spokespersons testified. Dominating were problems of Olive-Harvey and residents of the far south side, where east-west connections have been largely lost in favor of north-south ways to get downtown. Neither service board answered these complaints, but vigorously denied any discrepancy between North Side and South Side service.

James Withrow spoke for HPKCC Transit Task Force/SECRET linked goals of 10 minute daytime Metra service on the South Chicago branch with a 25 cent transfer or universal fare card.

Mike Payne explained his Gray Line plan to meet these goals, lease of service agreement between CTA and Metra to run Metra Electric according to rapid transit standards.

From the written testimony Neighborhood Capital Budget Group/Campaign for Better Transit

We have found problems with bus bunching, long waits for buses, a lack of adequate weekend and late-night service, and considerable frustration on the part of riders.

We support [the subcommittee's] effort and those of the neighborhoods in this corridor[43d -113th] to bring about greater accountability and practical improvements in transit for the people of this area.

Existing CTA bus service

CTA rail service

Pace- 5 routes of which none 24 hour, and 1 only on weekend


Examples of creative ideas people are coming up with: S.E.C.R.E.T: A very direct solution to part of the Southeast side's transit dilemma: Increase service on the South Chicago Branch on the Metra Electric. This ia a pragmatic approach...worth serious consideration, and offers a valuable short-term approach to better serving this area. SECRET worked with NCBG and CBT to survey Metra electric commuters during August, 2003. This survey found that 82% of the nearly 400 surveyed said they would take the train more often if service was increased.

Here are a few critical steps that NCBG urges you to take:

  1. Establish a regular annual schedule of hearings...
  2. Call on the transit agencies to commit to a series of joint community forums at which the riding public can put their proposal for improved and increased service on the is critical that all three agencies participate, because coordination of service is the key.
  3. Support the call for a Universal Fare Card. Traveling...should be seamless and as affordable as possible..and agencies should expand the number of transfer points. If the agencies don't coordinate their schedules and provide easy transfer points, it may be hard to find riders making intermodal transfers.S.E.C.R.E.T asked Metra Electric riders, and 81% of survey respondents said they would support a Universal Fare Card. Even more importantly, let the people help to identify the transfer points that would ease their daily commute.
  4. Help us hold the transit agencies accountable. Did the Southeast Side get its fair share of Illinois FIRST transit funds?