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Dozens of Seniors Ask CTA to Expand Wentworth, 31st Bus Routes’ Schedules

Residents from Bronzeville and Chinatown/Armour Square hold a press conference outside CTA headquarters. Photo: CBCAC

Last Wednesday the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community and the Bronzeville-based Lugenia Burns Hope Center brought two busloads of seniors downtown to the monthly CTA board meeting to advocate for extending the #24 Wentworth and #31 31st Street bus routes' service to include weekends. The #24, which generally travels between the 79th Street Red Line station and the Loop, currently only runs on weekdays from early morning to early evening. The #31, a pilot route between the Orange Line's Ashland stop and Bronzeville that launched in August 2016, only runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. CBCAC provided transcripts of some of the advocates' statements.

The #24 Wentworth route. Image: CTA
The #24 Wentworth route. Image: CTA
The #24 Wentworth route. Image: CTA

Prior to the hearing, the groups held a press conference outside the transit agency’s headquarters. Angela Lin, community outreach coordinator at CBCAC, and Lucy Yu, who lives at the Armour Square Apartments CHA senior housing, located south of Chinatown at 33rd and Wentworth, discussed why they’re pushing for more days of bus service.

Many of these seniors do not speak English or have very limited English proficiency,” said Lin. “So it is important for them to have a reliable and trustworthy bus to take them to Chinatown and downtown on the weekends, which allows them to go to the doctors for unexpected emergency visits and pharmaceutical pick ups, socialize at community centers, visit family and friends, and do enriching activities like dim sum and tea time.” She added that because there is no bus service on the weekends, many seniors choose to simply stay at home. “Despite bus ridership decline in Chicago, investments to buses in the South Side will make public transit a default option, making it the true competitor to ride-share.”

This is very important to our daily life: work, entertainment, convenience,” said Yu. “Oftentimes we can only see doctors during weekends; we can only see grandkids during weekends. The bus is more convenient for those senior citizens who have trouble moving around.” Yu added that bus service is especially helpful during the winter. “It is important for senior citizens to not have to walk too far because they may trip on the snow and black ice.”

The #31 31st Street route. Image: CTA
The #31 31st Street route. Image: CTA
The #31 31st Street route. Image: CTA

CBCAC staffer Thuong Phan testified during the board meeting. He noted that the current #31 route, which, like the #24, serves the 500 seniors who live at the Armor Square apartments, only runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and doesn’t include stops at Mercy Hospital and the Museum Campus, as originally requested by bus advocates. He asked the CTA board to consider running both the Wentworth and 31st Street routes on weekends.

“You may wonder why Asian seniors prefer buses over the trains,” Phan said. “A lot of the seniors here are not comfortable on the Red Line. Imagine taking the train from Sox-35th to get to downtown to go shopping at Macy’s… Someone like these seniors would hop on the train and nervously watch it go underground to downtown. You have to pay special attention to where you are. Despite that, you cannot read English so you might not get off at the right stop anyway. If you do get off at the right stop, how do you get out? Even if you want to ask someone these questions, the attendants do not speak your language. This is a true worry for many of these seniors and they should not be denied the opportunity to live their fullest life.”

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