The city is abuzz with gripes Monday about the CTA's new service cuts.
Nine express buses were eliminated, and 41 other routes had their hours truncated, as the city and union officials failed to resolve a labor disagreement. L service also saw reductions, with an additional few minutes between trains throughout the day. Many are blaming the city for years of mismanagement at the CTA for their financial woes.
Billy Sheahan, a photographer and film editor, rode one of the eliminated buses, the Washington X20, to work every day from the West Loop to downtown. "It's just so much faster than taking the always overcrowded Madison 20 bus," he told Huffington Post Chicago. "And since it was an express bus, it was as pleasant as a ride on the CTA could be."
With the line eliminated, "I can opt to use the Madison 20, which I probably won't do, or just walk, which I probably will do." We wish him luck in the upcoming blizzard.
In fact, crowds are expected to be more of a problem than delays. As this Picturing Transit map shows, virtually no areas of the city are expected to see more than five-minute slowdowns in their morning commutes. Many areas, shown blue on the map, will actually see expedited service to the Loop--but some neighborhoods will be hit harder than others.
Buses and trains run less frequently will lead to tighter squeezes on many CTA lines. Jenny Weigle, Director of Marketing at RKON Technologies, takes the #152 Addison to the #8 Halsted for her morning commute. "I didn't experience any difference in wait time at all," she told us, "but this morning, the bus was more packed than I'd ever seen it by the time we got to the stop at Wellington."
The Chicago Sun-Times spoke to a woman who is used to two and a half hour commutes--and is not thrilled about the CTA's new cuts:
Ionia Spicer, 61, told the Sun-Times it normally takes her two and a half hours to make the two-bus, one-train journey from her home in Englewood to her job at a dry-cleaning plant in Highwood--on a good day.
"Now, I'll have to get up at 3 a.m. to get to work by 7:30," she told the Sun-Times. "I just don't think it's fair. They keep putting the fares up. What are they doing with the money?"
On other lines, the change was hardly noticeable. In an email to HuffPost Chicago, web designer Ryan Balla wrote, "My trip on the Red Line from Bryn Mawr into the Loop was nothing but average with the typical amount of passengers standing upon reaching downtown. I saw no visible signs there was a service cut. Even on the Sunday when my partner and I went out shopping using the Red Line, service was running at a typical level with perhaps a minute or two longer intervals."
"It was actually less crowded than normal for me," said Maggie Berndt, who rides the Blue Line from Division to the Loop for her morning commute to the Illinois Humanities Council, where she works as Communications Manager. "I had just missed a train when I got down to the platform this morning, around 8:40 a.m., so I feared the worst." But the train showed up just minutes later, and she was even able to get a seat. "That almost never happened, even before the service cuts."
"If every morning is like the one I had today," said Jenny Weigle, the marketing director, "then this isn't going to be as bad as I thought."
Negotiations are ongoing between the CTA and its unions--as the CTA hopes for concessions to help fill what they say is a $95 million budget deficit. CTA officials are blaming the deficit on decreased tax revenues.