Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, November 11

  • North & South Side Bus Riders Will Join Forces to Call for Return of #31 & #11 Buses (DNA)
  • IL House Passes Legislation to Send Overdue Gas Tax Money to Communities (Herald)
  • Man, 62, Dies Three Weeks After a Driver Struck Him in Blue Island (Sun-Times)
  • Hearings Coming Up in the Bobby Cann (11/16) and Hector Avalos (11/17) Cases (Chainlink)
  • Chicago Ticket Amnesty Program Start Next Week, Runs Until 12/31 (Tribune)
  • Angered by Eviction of Homeless From Viaducts, Activists March to Cappleman’s Home (CBS)
  • Are Food Cart Bans About Ped Safety or Eliminating “Culinary Competition”? (Next City)
  • Arlington Heights Tax Hike Would Largely Go Towards Fixing Roads (Herald)
  • Uber “Brand Ambassadors” Buy Rides From Lyft Drivers, Try to Persuade Them to Switch (Reader)
  • Concerned Citizen Warns that Arty Roosevelt Crosswalks Are a Deathtrap (CBS)
  • Trail Porn: Gorgeous (and Heavily Color-Filtered) Photos of Autumn on The 606 (Chicagoist)
  • Young Professionals in Transportation Red Line Pub Crawl This Saturday

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Re: #31 and #11

    Two things must be kept in mind. 1) ridership versus coverage and 2) frequency.

    Every transit systems’ budget should have an established policy guideline that sets out the percentages of the budget that go to “ridership” routes versus “coverage” routes. A ridership route is essentially one that pays for itself and a coverage route is one that the system provides in spite of the fact that it is a losing proposition.

    The process that makes the decision of about those percentages should be as democratic as possible. After the percentage is set then one would determine whether a particular line will pay or not. And then the decision is made which existing line from the same category (ridership vs coverage) is to be cut in order to provide for the other line.

    So if the Lincoln bus is a coverage line, that is it does not pay for itself, then which other coverage line is to be cut. Do we cut the 220th street line (an imaginary CTA route) to provide for Lincoln. Do we cut the 220th street bus from once every hour to once every two hours to provide a once every two hour Lincoln service?

    Are these “activists” presenting these realities to their supporters? Is the CTA?

  • That artsy word stuff at Roosevelt/Michigan is a blatant example of the misguided and misplaced priorities of CDOT (or whoever is responsible) when it comes to the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized traffic in this city.

  • What makes you think the Lincoln bus line didn’t “pay for itself”?

    All public transit is subsidized, but the argument to spike the Lincoln was the CTA trying to jack up ridership on the Brown line to justify the ~$500 million overhaul it received.

    If there was ever a case of trying to fix something that wasn’t broken, messing with a decades worth of commercial development and services for seniors that evolved with the #11 Lincoln was it.

    IMO if we want to get to brass tacks, the problem with the CTA’s overall bus system is that the bus stops are located too close to each other. This results in bunching and screws up motor vehicle and cyclist traffic in its wake. We don’t need a bus stop on every block, public transit isn’t meant to be a taxi service. But also for decades, aldermen have sweetened large real estate developments by adding bus stops. Removing them would cost a lot of political capital and require courage few elected officials possess.

  • I have crossed Roosevelt and Michigan thousands upon thousands of times, the problems there for pedestrians are largely self-inflicted, and can be summarized as:

    1. People looking at their phones while crossing a busy street in rush hour (this is actually illegal).

    2. People trying to cross the street against the left turn signals (also illegal).

    3. Traffic Management Aides making things worse with subjective decisions which always favor motorists (not technically illegal, but an average salary of $34K, plus benefits and a pension is a criminal waste of tax dollars).

    For #2, I don’t understand why left turn arrows aren’t placed at the end of a traffic signal cycle instead of at the front. They would be a lot more effective that way.

  • The suboptimal and sometimes deficient design of someone else’s roadway (in this case the city and the state), though, isn’t self-inflicted.

  • When I say pay for itself I mean relatively. Of course Transit is subsidized. As for Lincoln I have no idea if it had strong ridership or not. But everyone seems to bring up seniors as big users so I wonder if it was among the bottom of the routes earnings wise.

    But if it had strong ridership then yes it is reasonable to move riders to the brown line especially if that created a better frequency opportunity.

    You seem to be arguing both sides. Poor seniors that have to go farther to catch the brown line and the problem with the CTA bus stops not far enough apart.

  • This is a democracy, so I don’t agree that CDOT and IDOT can be considered “someone else.” We are the government, pretending otherwise is an act of self-deception that plays out as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    If people are truly dissatisfied with the design of their public streets, or the laws governing their usage, they always have the option of uniting behind political candidates who will make that a priority in their campaign.

    (I do realize that’s a tall order, of course)

  • Relative to what? If a bus route has strong ridership, it is relatively more cost effective to keep it.

    My big picture assessment is that buses would be faster and more efficient users of the roads if the stops were further spaced.

    I see no contradiction between holding that view as well as the view that cutting a bus line serving almost 6,000 people a day was not a strategic move, but rather a thinly veiled case of cutting budgets. CTA admits this, the idea that the Brown Line project means it all comes out in the wash was an after-the-fact rationalization.

    And the jury is still out on that rationalization, ridership may be up on the Brown Line for reasons completely independent of the #11.

    I have seen no studies supporting the view that all of those #11 riders now take the Brown Line, in fact, many of them per Alderman Pawar’s survey (2,500 people) seem to now be driving or using taxis. Turning away your customer base doesn’t seem like a very sustainable way to run a public agency.

    Then there’s the businesses that counted on the 11 Lincoln – did CTA do a study analyzing the larger economic impact to the communities in question? If so they aren’t sharing it, but it’s not rocket science, you remove accessibility and there’s only one direction your business is going to go, and that’s down.

    As for the larger idea that heavily used bus routes are good candidates for closure, would you support cutting the #56 Milwaukee? The #11 was less redundant with the Brown Line than the #56 Milwaukee is with the Blue Line, right? Where do you draw the line?

    …CTA concedes that #11 is a busy route. “We have pretty good ridership on this route,” said Tammy Chase, CTA spokersperson, citing statistics that show an average of 5,800 riders per weekday. “It’s not a ridership issue.”

    Rather, service was considered duplicative with Brown Line rail stops. “There’s plenty of transportation there,” Chase said. East-west bus routes along major arterial streets shuttle passengers to and from Brown Line stations, she noted, and walking from, say, the Wellington station to the Lincoln/Wellington/Southport intersection is less than one mile. “We factored all this in.”


  • You present a strong case for restoring the #11 service. It appears that if the CTA budget could afford it they would restore that service. Removing it sounds like it was a trade-off between it and some other ridership service somewhere else. So the question seems to me to be if the CTA is to restore the service on #11, then where will they cut?

    That in a nutshell is where the CTA is failing us as a city. If we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are a reasonably efficient operation then why are they not presenting a set if choices for riders to discuss and choose between.

    But is that realistic? Do they pit the riders of one service against some other to duke it out? And who picks the services to choose between? And how do the deciders actually make the decisions? Is it a case of their transit experts against our transit experts? Could it even be a fair fight amongst experts if they don’t provide us with access to information that they provide their experts?

    I think I am getting close to the crux here. If we are going to open up transit planning to political influence (is that not why aldermen are joining the fray here?) then we need to make that a conscious choice and design a robust political structure to support direct political influence of transit planning.

    I imagine something like the 49th ward’s participatory budgeting. Invite people who are willing to do the work to educate themselves on the subject to a process where they are provided the information they might need to do it. Then provide an upfront democratic process (of some sort) to choose between competing good ideas.

  • I don’t think we can blame Alderman Pawar for fighting for his community, but those are all legitimate questions, absolutely. I’d add a few more nuances:

    1. On the transparency front, I’d like to see the public able to access the data and formula that CTA used to decide that cutting the #11 Lincoln would save them $1.2 million a year. Assuming that’s true it represents 0.82% of their entire budget. (see

    As you say, what other options were considered and how (if at all) did they factor in commercial sector impact in addition to simply the # of riders?

    2. Another option would have been to raise fares. This could/should be done by a very modest amount on a regular basis to account for inflation, instead of the historical tendency to kick that can so far down the road that when increases are finally approved they are significant.

  • btw, just to put that $1.2 million, and the CTA’s entire operating budget of ~$1.5 billion into a much larger context:

  • Jeremy

    I think a problem with the CTA is the notion that every segment of government has to turn a profit in order to be kept. This is one aspect of the disinvestment of the south side. A route doesn’t get high enough ridership, so service is reduced, leading to fewer riders, leading to route elimination.

    How often are spider webs cleared from bus shelters? Never, because that doesn’t produce revenue. Security on train platforms or janitors mopping train stations don’t produce revenue, so there isn’t room in the budget for them.

  • We’re very much on the same page. Thanks for engaging.

  • Likewise. I am super passionate about the 11 as I grew up with divorced parents who for many years lived a few blocks away from each other with Lincoln in the middle (dad on the 1300 block of Wolfram, mom on 1100 block of George). That bus safely got us to train stops north and south when we were kids and the neighborhood was more gang infested, allowed my mom to pick us up at a home daycare further north, it got us to the zoo and North Avenue beach, to the Davis when it was dirt cheap, to summer camps at Oz Park and later Gordon Tech, etc. I haven’t used it in a long time, but as an extended diagonal with 150 years of history, slow migrations and development, Lincoln is a treasure.

  • I totally hear this. Super myopic revenue-expenditure analyses are problems in the public and private spheres.


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