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The Cruelest Cuts

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Under the CTA's new plan, overall service will be pared by 10 percent, and roughly 75 percent of all bus routes will experience some reduction in service. But cuts clearly fall harder on some communities than on others. In many instances the new cuts will make entire neighborhoods--such as Austin, Pilsen, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, and Kenwood-Oakland--inaccessible by public transit at night.

Austin: Two east-west bus lines completely eliminated, Owl service eliminated on the Green Line and on the Roosevelt, Cicero, North, Chicago (west of Pulaski), and Central Avenue bus routes. The only buses not affected by the cuts are on the Madison and Division routes. West of Pulaski Avenue there will be no access to CTA between 1 and 4 AM from Madison all the way to Belmont, affecting Galewood, Montclare, Belmont-Craigin, Hermosa, West Humboldt Park, and West Garfield Park as well. There will be no Owl service to Loretto Hospital and no late evening, Owl, or weekend service to West Suburban Hospital.

North Lawndale: Owl service on the Douglas Blue Line and the Roosevelt, Ogden, and Pulaski bus routes eliminated; late evening cuts on the Ogden, Kimball, South California, and Harrison routes; 16th/18th Street and Ogden buses reduced to rush-hour service only. North Lawndale is 96 percent black, with a per capita income of $5,550, less than half the average for the city. There will be no CTA service to the community between 1 and 4 AM.

Northwest side: While the far northwest side is one of the areas hardest hit by the cuts, service reductions here could also hurt residents from other communities who work in the area and in the northwest suburbs. The 85A bus (North Central), for instance, which starts at the Jefferson Park station on the Blue Line travels to Touhy Avenue in Niles, used to run from 5 AM to 12:30 AM. Now Chicagoans who work at businesses and industries in that suburb will only be able to catch a bus from 6 AM to 7 PM; service will be completely eliminated on Saturdays.

Pilsen: Cuts on seven different bus and train lines will eliminate a total of 26 hours of bus service a day from this community. All Owl and weekend service will be abolished on the Douglas Blue Line, which will limit access to such employment centers as O'Hare Airport and restaurants located downtown and on the north side. The 16th/18th Street bus will be reduced to rush hour service only. The 18th Street bus, which currently operates from 5 AM to 11 PM on weekdays and runs along the main business strip through the heart of the community, will only be in service from 6 to 8 AM and from 2 to 5 PM.

Grand Boulevard, Douglas, and Kenwood-Oakland: Weekend service on the Indiana and Pershing Road lines will be eliminated; Owl service on the 35th, 47th, Stonly Island, Cottage Grove, and State Street bus routes will be eliminated, as will Green Line el service; evening service on the 43rd Street, Indiana Avenue, and 51st Street bus routes will also be slashed. There will be no late evening service to the Robert Taylor Homes and no late evening north-south service to Stateway Gardens. A survey completed in the early 90s showed that 91 percent of the residents in Kenwood, Oakland, Douglas, and Grand Boulevard had used some form of public transit within the week they were polled, compared to the citywide average of 42 percent.

The CTA spent $343 million and two years repairing the Green Line. The agency never reopened seven stations on the line (six of them on the south side); now Owl service is being discontinued, which will affect all of Austin, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, and the Near West Side, as well as Douglas, Grand Boulevard, Washington Park, and Woodlawn on the south side.

Unemployment along the Green Line's Lake Street corridor is between 10 and 25 percent in most neighborhoods; several areas have rates over 25 percent.

According to a survey conducted by the nonprofit Metro Chicago Information Center, nearly half of all blacks and 42.5 percent of Latinos had taken public transit within a given week, compared to 36.5 percent of whites.

Generally, the new cuts show a bias in favor of people who work 9 to 5--the traditional rush hour was barely touched by CTA officials, while off-peak hours and Saturday and Sunday service were slashed. Nearly all of the cuts to bus service trim evening and early morning hours. For instance, the number 11 (Lincoln Avenue), the number 1 (Indiana/Hyde Park), the number 27 (South Deering), and the number 73 (Armitage Avenue), which used to run on average until midnight, will now shut down at around 7:30 PM. On the whole, cutting evening and night service tends to affect people in the lowest paid jobs--those least able to pay for other forms of transit.

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