Residents oppose bus route through NU campus

Scott Gordon

More than 60 people attended a hearing Tuesday night to offer resident feedback on the Chicago Transit Authority’s recent experimental reworking of local bus routes.

Among the citizens who spoke at the meeting at Evanston Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., were more than 10 Evanston residents who complained that the CTA’s recently altered 201 Central/Ridge bus route — running from the Howard Street El stop north to Evanston Northwestern Hospital and then west to Old Orchard Mall in Skokie — is causing safety worries, leaves many buses empty and neglects people who need reliable access to a bus on that route.

The route was changed in April 2004 to run on Sheridan Road between Church and Central Streets in order to provide improved bus service to Northwestern students and faculty. It used to run along Sherman Avenue between Grove and Foster Streets, west on Foster to Ridge, north to Noyes Street and east back to Sherman.

Residents addressed a panel of five CTA administrators headed by Mary Kay Christopher, CTA’s general manager of service delivery. The panel will take comments from Tuesday’s meeting and several other local hearings, and the Chicago Transit Board will consider these comments in deciding whether to make the new routes permanent.

Those opposing the route change said the NU community doesn’t need or use bus service along Sheridan, but that people who do need the buses have been left out.

“I have been told that people are still waiting on Sherman Avenue and don’t know where their bus is,” said Evanston resident Susan Aaron.

George Martin, one of many senior citizens who ride 201 buses, said, “I ride those buses like five times a day, and not one person has gotten on at Northwestern.” Martin, who uses a walker, said he had to give up his part-time job when buses stopped running along Sherman.

Alex Sproul, chairman of the transportation committee of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks there is a need for bus service among NU students and faculty. Sproul said buses on the 201 route are empty now because the route change has not been well-publicized on campus and because campus is not as crowded during the summer as it is during the regular school year.

Evanston resident Paula Horner said she was concerned buses approaching the intersection of Sheridan and Central could hit children who run out of the nearby Central Street Beach parking lot. The buses often coast toward intersections and can be hard to hear when approaching, Horner said.

City Editor Scott Gordon is a Medill junior. He can be reached at [email protected]