"It's Our Lifeline!" was boldly splashed across the backs of the nearly 200 supporters who filled the Chicago Transit Authority's public budget hearing Monday to protest the agency's plan to axe a stretch of the No. 11 Lincoln bus.
“Tomorrow I am going to a doctor’s appointment, and this is the only route I can take,’’ a disabled Alenka Kordish told board members according to the Sun-Times. “Please don’t take the No. 11 bus away.’’
To cut costs and "de-crowd" parts of the system, the CTA has proposed measures that include upping prices on passes along with bus route eliminations.
The proposed elimination for Lincoln would strike the area between Fullterton and Western, affecting the route through Lincoln Park, Roscoe Village, North Center and Lincoln Square. The single bus line has drawn passionate supporters ranging from small business owners to the elderly.
"Anytime there are cuts to bus lines, there's almost always a disproportionate impact to seniors, people living on fixed incomes, people who have a lower income," said Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) to ABC Chicago.
Seniors told ABC the No. 11 route is what "keeps them connected to city life."
CTA President Forrest Claypool says cutting the route down will save $1.5 million and ease crowding on other lines, while CTA Spokesman Brian Steele insisted Lincoln bus passengers will have "multiple options" available to them.
Still, neighbors along the Lincoln Avenue corridor aren't buying it.
Golden Apple owner Nick Alex, whose 24-hour diner sits at the intersection of Lincoln, Southport and Wellington told DNAinfo Chicago he estimates losing the No. 11 could cost him 25 percent of his business.
"Elston Avenue has no bus," Alex said to DNAinfo. "Elston is deserted." Alex's feelings were echoed by Heritage Bicycles General Store on Lincoln who similarly feel losing the route could doom small business along the avenue.
"This might be make it or break it for the mom and pop shops up and down Lincoln," wrote Heritage Bicycles in a Dec. 7 Facebook update.
Ald. Pawar has requested more time from CTA's board to devise a plan to save the route, including floating the possibility of using surplus tax-increment-financing (TIF) funds to save the route, reports the Sun-Times.
CTA customers along the No. 145 Wilson/Michigan Express have also voiced opposition to that route's elimination, according to the Tribune. By cutting some routes and shortening others, CTA officials said service will increase for the bus and rail routes used by 76 percent of the system's total ridership.