Council backs CTA alterations

Jaime Griesgraber

Despite reservations, Evanston City Council unanimously agreed Monday night to draft a letter to the Chicago Transit Authority’s governing board supporting proposed changes to the city’s bus routes. However, the letter will include a list of the city’s remaining concerns.

The decision came after the council rejected the CTA’s original plans, which were presented at the March 24 council meeting.

Five years of ridership growth in Evanston Skokie and on Chicago’s North Side have made it necessary to redesign bus routes, officials said. Routes have not been drastically changed in more than 30 years.

The CTA hopes to implement a 180-day experimental plan June 23. Following this trial period, the CTA will make permanent changes to the routes.

“Overall we are increasing routes and some are getting shifted,” said Kimberly Beattie, a CTA spokeswoman who presented the revised plan to the city.

“Our goal is to improve service, ridership and efficiency,” she said.

Although the City Council has no authority over the CTA, it is “the best link” the CTA has to its customers, Beattie said.

The major objection to the CTA’s original plan was the elimination of the route 202, which runs along Fowler Avenue from Main Street to Emerson Street. The route serves local senior citizens homes.

Beattie’s new plan revised route 201 and added route 205 to accommodate for inconveniences caused by eliminating route 202.

Route 201 runs from Howard Street to Central Street along Chicago and Ridge Avenues. Route 205 is a new rush-hour route that serves Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave., and four retirement homes.

Ald. Art Newman (1st) said he was pleased the new routes would serve a total of six senior citizens homes.

Ald. Lionel Jean-Baptiste (2nd) said although he feels the CTA’s proposal accommodates the needs of a majority of the residents, eliminating route 202 still will be a hardship for a number of people that live east of ETHS.

The CTA board will vote on the plan Wednesday.