AWC Tries to Recruit Andersonville Straphangers With a Misleading Flyer

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The AWC flyer.

Last week I was enjoying a glass of hot spiced wine in a cozy Andersonville tavern, when I came across a stack of flyers that killed my holiday buzz. In perhaps their most dishonest strategy to deep-six the CTA’s Ashland bus rapid transit plan, Roger Romanelli’s opposition group the Ashland-Western Coalition has been distributing handbills in the neighborhood painting the AWC as a transit advocacy organization. They’re hoping that their call to extend Ashland bus service north to Andersonville, as part of their watered-down Modern Express Bus counter-proposal, will attract local transit riders to their cause.

MEB, billed as a cheaper, less-disruptive alternative to BRT, would really just be bringing back the old 10.3 mph #X9 Ashland Express, but it would actually run even slower because it would make almost three times as many stops. The proposal includes various expensive bells and whistles, like installing heated shelters at every stop and hiring onboard “bus marshals” to assist passengers, but the coalition hasn’t provided a cost estimate.

The chief virtue of the proposal to the AWC members is that it eliminates the dedicated bus lanes and left-turn prohibitions of the BRT plan. However, those are key elements that will allow for nearly doubling bus speeds to 15.9 mph, including stops, comparably fast as driving. That’s what’s necessary if we want to make the bus so appealing that people will leave their cars at home. The purpose of MEB is not to speed up buses, but to prevent the city from making real improvements to bus service, so that some people don’t have to adjust their driving habits.

In its new flyer, the AWC tries to recruit more members with the promise of extending Ashland bus service north 2.3 miles to Clark. While many residents of progressive, transit-friendly Andersonville would likely support extending the bus line, the flyer designed to win them over is a Trojan horse. It’s an extreme example of the basic dishonesty of the AWC, an anti-transit group posing as bus advocates.

Almost all of the language on the handbill is about the benefits of extended service. “Easy, fast & reliable service to Ravenswood, Uptown and Andersonville,” “Less vehicles & traffic congestion,” and “New economic & community development” are all, in fact, valid arguments for extending the route north. Of course, any Andersonville resident who is drawn in by the cheerful, pro-transit copy on the flyer and visits the AWC’s website will get a rude awakening when they see the group is really about blocking better bus service.

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The AWC’s anonymous website.

Whether or not you live in a neighborhood that will be served by the Ashland BRT, if you want fast, efficient bus transit to be an option for your community in the future, it makes sense to support the plan. Despite what this deceptive handbill would have you believe, Romanelli and his followers are basically trying to prevent fast buses from ever becoming a reality by killing the first demonstration of how BRT would work.

  • cjlane

    They’re clearly just throwing up anything that might stick (not so unlike all sides of this issue), but they are also failing to realize the level of objection that would come from the Ashland residents b/t IPR and Foster–They will *not* be happy about buses running in front of their homes.

  • CL

    Bus marshals? Is that like air marshals? They shoot you if you act up?

    Or would it be more like a bus concierge, attending to our needs? I could get on board with that.

  • Alex Oconnor

    Roger Romanelli , The AWC & dishonesty and misrepresentation. Never. Ever. Ever.

  • Jeff

    The BRT (in the actual BRT form that CTA is planning) should go all the way to Andersonville. CTA is being short-sighted in stopping it at Irving Park. Yes, I know it’s close to Clark, but this would be faster and it’s desperately needed to better connect Aville to other parts of the city.

  • duppie

    Which part of the city is currently not served from Andersonville by #22 Clark (incl. transfer to future BRT) and or #50 Damen? I am curious.

    The only benefits would be speed and economic development
    Regarding the speed: From Foster to IPR is 1. 5 miles in total. How much time would that save?

    Economic development: Ashland between Foster and IPR is largely residential, so unlike further south were one of the benefits will be economic development, that benefit does not exist north of IPR.

    Compare that to the cost and the cannibalization that will happen on the #22 and/or #50

    In the current political climate with severely restricted funding this would be a bad choice: High cost, limited benefit.
    (of course if public transit was properly funded it would be a different story)

  • duppie

    John,
    How was the Glog at Simons this year? Didn’t have a chance to try it.

  • Excellent! It was the perfect beverage and bar for Xmas Eve Eve.

  • Edgewater Roadie

    There is strong residential opposition to BRT north of Irving Park. That is also where the mayor lives.

  • Fbfree

    It’s not what parts of the city, but rather what trips in the city are now poorly served. Right now, with the #22, the transit system is set up to make trips between Wrigley Field and Andersonville as easy as possible. However, trips further south or south to south west are hampered by unreliability and slow speed on the #22 and low frequency on the other routes.

    From my standpoint, I’d prefer scrapping the 22 north of Irving Park and running the BRT up to Howard. On balance, it reduces access to Wrigley (which I seldom once), and it increases it to almost everywhere else in the city. While that would be my preference, the effects on all customers would have to be studied before making any changes. Effects on local residences would also have to be considered. I would like to see it studied.

  • Adam
  • Peter

    …the flyer designed to win them over is a Trojan horse” This is the funniest thing I’ve read this year. Thanks for the chuckle. .. SO dramatic!

  • Would you have preferred “A wolf in sheep’s clothing”?

  • Brian

    It seems that AWC must feel somewhat threatened by the fact that the Andersonville Development Corporation did not side with their coalition this past year. They seem to think that if they can get progressive Andersonville to side with their anachronistic and ill informed alternative, they will somehow be legitimized. Unfortunately this fight currently does not involve Andersonville. The CTA and the City do not seem to have any intention of extending the route further North than Irving Park at this point, no matter what. Perhaps they will take another look in the near future, until then AWC should probably stop wasting paper in Andersonville. Personally speaking I think there would be tremendous social and economic benefit from extending BRT Andersonville. It could open connections beyond just going to adjacent neighborhood, reaching neighborhoods that are currently not easily accessible by public transportation. So if someone in Andersonville works in Pilsen or in West Town or in Auburn Gresham or vice versa, they could have a faster and more reliable mode of transportation that does not require them to have a car, does not require them to go all the way to the loop just to go another direction, and does not require multiple transfers. Just the potential opportunities from connecting neighborhoods with new visitors, customers or employees would be invaluable. I also feel that by not extending the route further North the CTA only gives credence to those opposed to BRT. If those planning this project truly believe that BRT is a different form of transportation than a typical bus or express bus line (which it is) then stopping at Irving Park out of fear of service redundancy with the 22 bus North of there does not help their cause. Hopefully a decision will be made to extend the line sooner rather than later. I have no doubt that when that decision is made Andersonville will have more than enough representatives intelligent enough to see through AWC’s misrepresentations.

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