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People, Get Ready

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[Re: "You Can't Get There From Here," September 5.] The time is near! Starting this fall (effective October 6, 1997) the CTA has slated the elimination of northwest-side bus routes number 41 Elston/Clybourn, number 64 Foster/Canfield, and number 69 Cumberland/East River Road. Further and extensive service cuts along Northwest Highway, Higgins, Central, Milwaukee, Harlem, and other vital transportation arteries are coming next spring.

Some of the bus lines are to be cut off "after alternative flexible service has been designed with the input of the affected communities." But we've yet to see the promised CTA advisory committee that citizens signed up for at the June 10 community meeting at Immaculate Conception Church.

The CTA is dead serious about the implementation of its various cuts. The ticket booth at the Harlem Avenue station of the Kennedy-O'Hare rapid transit line is now empty. A transportation aide is available to counsel passengers on the use of the electronic transit fare-card system during the morning, afternoon, and evening hours. Between 9 PM and 5 AM, only a security guard is on duty. No provisions are made for any extra staff to cover lunch or coffee breaks, so the station may be left unattended at some times.

As for the buses, one morning soon we may all wake up and find that we are involved in a game of hide and seek with those little white transport vans with the blue and red stripes. To avoid such an unbelievable situation, those of us who drive cars most of the time will have to stick up for those of us who cannot do without the buses. Please don't stand by while your friends and neighbors are quietly "mugged" at the bus stops by the CTA.

Now that Mayor Daley has brought Frank Kruesi back from the Department of Transportation in Washington to head up the CTA, we can anticipate a push to find state and federal dollars to fund the existing bus lines. But how long do you want your taxes to be used to pay for operating full-size buses to pick up fewer and fewer passengers? After all, Mayor Daley may be trying to be fiscally responsible.

To help solve this dilemma, my proposal is for the responsible members of this community to get together with the CTA and establish a Local Transportation Service (LTS) offering the following features:

1) Control resides in a local board of directors responsible to the community.

2) Eight passenger caravan-type vans driven by local residents.

3) Old-fashioned, home-town service with personal recognition emphasized.

4) A telephone-radio communications system with quick response.

5) A connector service with el terminals and other transportation routes.

6) 24-hour service that helps people get to stores, restaurants, banks, and medical offices.

7) A service style that brings enjoyment and improves local commerce.

8) Local service for local conditions cooperating citywide with other communities.

We know how to do this. For some decades local economic and housing development organizations have been working independently, yet in concert with the city, to improve conditions within the city of Chicago. The ways to establish such an organization are well known, and it can be done. My recommendation is to take an otherwise bad situation and turn it into an advantage. Let's create a new service that is pleasing to people. Don't leave it up to someone else to do for you.

Jim Del Medico

41st Ward

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