The North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council’s transportation subcommittee held a town hall meeting at the Chicago Police Department’s 10th District station to address public transit concerns and to devise immediate solutions.
Rochelle Jackson, a member of NLCCC’s Transportation Sub-Committee, said the goal of the town hall was to enlighten the community on the current transit situation and discuss the best practices moving forward. She noted several new businesses and developments have entered the community since several Chicago Transit Authority bus routes were cancelled, changed or rerouted in 2008 and 2009 due to what CTA deemed to be low ridership.
“[CTA] just decided to cut us off not giving any wherewithal to the people who live in this area who would still ride this bus,” said Jackson. “There’s businesses in this neighborhood and when you’re cut off from transportation businesses leave so our underserved neighborhood becomes more underserved.”
During the town hall, NLCC revealed its desire to extend these bus lines:
• The #157 Streeterville/Taylor bus route extended beyond California Ave.
• The #12 Roosevelt bus route beyond Central Ave. to Austin Ave. and the Pink Line terminal located at 2005 S. Pulaski Rd.
• The #18 16-18th St. bus route extending further west.
CTA is responsible for operating the transit system throughout the City of Chicago and 35 neighborhood suburbs.
NLCCC invited Active Trans Alliance Community Liaison Cynthia Hudson and West Chesterfiled Community Association President Michael LaFargue to address some of the issues North Lawndale/Austin is facing to lend their expertise.
Hudson addressed the myriad of concerns North Lawndale/Austin residents had with their current transit situation. She said ATA intends to partner with NLCC to examine the current condition of the neighborhood’s transit system in order to propose lasting and effective changes by starting a petition to change the bus service, outline the neighborhood’s walkability, and evaluate the foot traffic of the community’s business corridors to present CTA with credible data to push for additional service. However, she was not able to provide an exact timeline as to when all of these initiatives will be completed.
“Transportation can determine whether people work or not, where they live, how they select their apartment,” said Hudson, a North Lawndale resident.
Active Trans Alliance aims to make walking, biking and public transit accessible, safe throughout the greater Chicagoland area.
LaFargue emphasized the importance of building sustainable businesses around the current transit system and to approach CTA with a cost and benefit approach.
CTA spokesperson Jeff Tolman responded to inquiries about extending multiple bus line in North Lawndale/Austin by stating the agency must evaluate its entire system before proceeding forward.
“We regularly study ridership patterns across our entire system as part of our year-round service planning efforts, holistically considering the entire city, not just individual corridors, to ensure we’re providing service where it’s most needed with the resources we have,” said Tolman.
North Lawndale and lifelong CTA rider Gussie Duye said she’s pursued higher education among other aspirations while riding her neighborhood bus. She was hopeful that the conclusions reached at the town hall meeting would bring about a positive change.
“I think this meeting coming together and sharing our ideas and thoughts will bring about a change and hopefully we will be able to restore the bus line,” said Duye, who has lived in the community for over 50 years. “There’s been an increase in residents moving to the neighborhood and I see a lot of young people and their children going to the Lawndale Clinic and that’s a distance for them to walk.”
For more information about the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council visit https://nlcccplanning.org/.
To learn more about the Active Trans Alliance Community visit http://activetrans.org/.
To learn more about CTA visit http://www.transitchicago.com/.