Transit authorities delay bus route changes after residents voice concerns


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz at Monday’s City Council meeting, where aldermen approved a recommendation for delays to transit changes. Bobkiewicz said safe and efficient transportation is a priority for Evanston.

Keerti Gopal, Reporter

Transit authorities delayed changes that would threaten direct transportation to and from Evanston Township High School after unanimous recommendation from aldermen on Monday.

The proposed changes were released in April as part of the North Shore Coordination Plan, a joint effort between Pace and Chicago Transit Authority. The first phase of the plan would include the discontinuation of CTA Route 205, the line that currently provides direct transport to and from ETHS. As an alternative to Route 205, authorities suggested extending Pace Route 213 to include two direct trips to ETHS per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

“We want to do the greatest good with the resources we have,” said Pace media relations manager Maggie Daly Skogsbakken. She noted that cutting Route 205 was meant to decrease duplicative routes, but that the importance of the route’s proximity to ETHS may not have been sufficiently evaluated beforehand.

Still, the proposed new service would provide significantly less frequent and less direct service for students. According to city documents, Route 205 currently provides service every 15 to 30 minutes from 6:20 a.m. to 6:35 p.m., with direct stops at ETHS. Accessibility for students traveling to school was a chief concern for residents and aldermen.

Evanston resident Cecelia Wallin said the changes would pose a particular challenge for some students with disabilities. Wallin added that her son, now 24, has a cognitive disability that made transportation to school difficult, and that the direct access Route 205 provided to ETHS was crucial for his daily routine.

“Access to good public transit directly impacts individuals with disabilities’ independence and self-determination, and the lack of it contributes to their marginalization,” Wallin said. “It is about equity and access for all members of our community, especially those who sometimes cannot advocate effectively for themselves.”

Skogsbakken said the changes are part of a larger effort by Pace to provide increased connectivity and access to transit in the greater Chicago area. As part of this endeavor, which kicked off 15 years ago, the company is evaluating each division to maximize resources and efficiency, she said.

Going forward, Skogsbakken said Pace will work to amend the changes and address public concerns. She said the changes may go into effect in August, before the new school year, although the implementation has not yet been finalized.

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz said providing safe and reliable public transportation is a priority for Evanston, and he added that improving transit will encourage more residents to use it.

“We want to make sure that Evanston residents, including those students at Evanston Township High School, can use transit to get where they need to go,” he said. “The easier the transit is for them to use, the more likely it is they’ll use it.”

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