Sunday, March 23, 2008

Extended bus schedule fills critical gap

Photo by Eric Young Smith

What does public transit have to do with community development? Quite a lot, as several NCP quality-of-life plans call for improvements such as new el stations in West Haven (at Western on the Green Line and Madison/United Center on the Pink) and transit-oriented development around stations in Englewood and East Garfield.

The first group to notch a victory on this front is Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC), which in late 2004 co-hosted a community workshop (along with Work Welfare and Families and CTA chair Carole Brown) to discuss local transit needs.

A bunch of ideas got kicked around, from a child-care shuttle to a car-ownership program, but the solution that stuck was simply to plug a gap in local bus service.

Until this week, the #43 bus stopped running at 7 p.m. on weekdays, which meant second-shift workers couldn't transfer to or from the Red or Green Line stations, which are a mile or more west of the neighborhood. Now the bus runs every 20 minutes until just after midnight, thanks to a $150,000 grant from the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development, matched by a similar amount from the Regional Transportation Authority.

"This will serve the whole community," said Bernita Johnson-Gabriel, QCDC's executive director, noting that hundreds of new units of housing have been built near 43rd Street, with more to come. It will benefit businesses as well, because four of the first loans from the $12 million Cottage Grove Restoration Initiative Fund will rehabilitate retail spaces on 43rd Street (shown at right) and on the 4200 block of Cottage Grove.

The CTA press release also announced new weekend trains on the Yellow Line and extended hours on the #69 Grand bus serving Navy Pier and the West Side.

The #43 bus is among the 20 routes that will offer Bus Tracker service, which allows riders to check arrival times via the internet. See CTA Tattler article.

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