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Improvements to South Side Bus and Rail Service Kick Off This Weekend

4:39 PM CDT on September 2, 2016

South Side Improvement poster
Map of the new transit service. Click to Enlarge. Image: CTA

The announcement that, starting Labor Day weekend, six bus lines on the South Sides will offer more frequent and/or extended service, appears to be good news for transit riders in underserved neighborhoods. The service improvements will be paid for out of the CTAs operating budget.

Mayor Rahm Emauel and CTA president Dorval Carter, Jr. heralded the new bus service at the CTA’s 95th Street Red Line Station. While these improvements are much needed in South Side communities with limited transit service, the initiative is also part of Emanuel’s campaign to improve his standing with African-American voters in the wake of the LaQuan McDonald police shooting scandal.

Streetsblog's Steven Vance also floated the idea that, since some of these service improvements will occur in parts of town that would be served by the Red Line extension, the initiative may also be a strategy to reduce demand for that project, which would cost more than $2 billion.

“This increase in bus service will mean greater access to jobs, education and opportunities for residents of the South Side,” said Emanuel in a statement. “By providing improved and more frequent service, we help customers get to their destinations more conveniently and create a positive impact on the surrounding regional economy.”

According to the CTA, the first recent improvements to bus service on the South Side began on June 20, when service on the #26 South Shore Express was extended into the weekday morning and evening hours.

The following improvements will go into effect this Sunday, September 4.

    • A new #95 95th bus line will combine the former #95E 93rd/95th and #95W West 95th routes to create a continuous route between 92nd/Buffalo on the east to 87th/Damen on the west. This will make the 95th Street bus the furthest-south east-west route to cover the entire city – currently it’s the #87 8th bus. More frequent service will be provided west of 95th/State on weekdays and weekends.
    • #4 Cottage Grove: Some trips will be extended south of 95th to 115th Street/Cottage Grove to provide connections to 95th Street retail for residents along Cottage Grove.
    • #71 71st/South Shore: The route will offer more frequent bus service south of 73rd/South Shore to 112th/Torrence on weekdays and weekends
95th event
Carter and Emanuel at this morning's event. Presumably this rider was asking about plans for enhanced service on the Purple Line. Photo: CTA

The following improvements will go into effect next Tuesday, September 6:

    • #34 South Michigan: More frequent weekday midday and evening service
    • #119 Michigan/119th: More frequent weekday midday and evening service
    • #26 South Shore Express: Route will be extended to 103rd/Stony Island

In addition, starting Monday, October 3, the CTA will run more trains on the Green Line’s Ashland/63rd and Cottage Grove branches during weekday morning and evening rush periods.

According to the CTA, the agency runs 44 bus routes that provide more than 183,000 average weekday rides south of 63rd street.

South Side readers, feel free to let us know what you think of the new transit service in the comments section.

Streetsblog Chicago will resume publication on Tuesday. Have a great Labor Day weekend!

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