The No. 11 Lincoln bus route has gotten another extension – 90 more days to build ridership.
The No. 11 Lincoln bus route is getting another chance.
The CTA board voted during its monthly meeting Wednesday to give the route up to 90 days to build ridership, before the agency decides whether to continue the run permanently.
The agency wants about 1,500 riders per day on the route, but it had been averaging only about 500 since it began a test run last year. The North Side Lincoln route was eliminated in 2012, angering local residents.
Community pressure, backed by Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th, prompted the agency to start the route again June 20, 2016, on a trial basis.
The bus route was revived with limited hours, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and runs from Fullerton Avenue to the Western Avenue Brown Line station. The extension will allow it to run into September.
Deciding which bus routes to keep can be a tough balancing act for the CTA. The agency does not want to waste money running empty buses but faces complaints if service is eliminated. Seniors sometimes find it easier to take a bus rather than the “L” and have been among the strongest voices urging the CTA to keep the No. 11 going.
Many residents have complained that the limited hours for the bus pilot hurt ridership. However, CTA officials said that if morning hours were added, from 6 to 10 a.m., it would likely only add 490 more riders, still below the goal. The number was derived from looking at morning ridership on other comparable routes, like the No. 151 Sheridan, said spokesman Brian Steele.
Also, if morning hours were added, the target ridership number for the pilot would have to increase, CTA officials said.
Carole Morey, CTA’s chief planning officer, said marketing and promotion of the route has been extensive, and included a pitch to riders to write love letters to the Lincoln bus on Valentine’s Day.
Morey said that extending the route’s run through the summer would allow the agency to have a full year of data on bus ridership.
Lee Crandell, executive director of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, said the bus serves a community that has seen expanding development. He said longer hours and weekend hours would help people get to nightlife, such as bars and restaurants.
“We see the No. 11 bus as a really crucial tool for economic development,” Crandell said. “We hear from a lot of people that the hours are really challenging.”
Also on Wednesday, the board voted to approve a contract with a University of Chicago subsidiary that plans to invest $219,000 toward renovations of the original Garfield Green Line station, built in the early 1890s.
The station will be used as a welcome center, community space and small business incubator in the Washington Park neighborhood, as part of the university’s “Arts Block” project intended to boost Garfield Boulevard, the CTA said in a statement.
The CTA is renovating the station as part of its $50 million Garfield Gateway Project announced earlier this year. The project includes improvements to the current Garfield Green station, including upgrading platforms and installing public art.
The renovation will restore the old station to its original Victorian-era appearance, Steele said. It has been used for storage since 2001 and is expected to open as a welcome center by the end of 2018.