Under pressure, CTA delivers on bus service for Pullman Wal-Mart
BY FRAN SPIELMAN AND ROSALIND ROSSI Staff Reporters September 10, 2013 3:10PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool in 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: October 12, 2013 6:26AM
Under pressure from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the CTA agreed Tuesday to provide bus service to a new Walmart supercenter in Pullman just in time for Wednesday’s grand opening.
The controversy surrounding the CTA’s broken promise to provide bus service to the new Pullman Park Walmart had threatened to mar Wednesday’s opening of a store Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) spent years fighting to build.
But, it probably won’t.
Instead, a jubilant Beale announced at Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony that the CTA had done an about-face under apparent pressure from City Hall. No longer would CTA buses end more than five blocks away from the new Walmart at 109th and Doty Rd. A temporary shuttle, called the “111A Pullman Shuttle,” will fill in the gap until a permanent solution can be found.
“I want to thank CTA for providing bus service first thing tomorrow,” Beale, chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, said to the cheers of Walmart employees Tuesday.
Emanuel then took the podium at the revival-style ceremony and used trademark sarcasm to send a message to CTA President Forrest Claypool, who was not in attendance.
“This is a great day. Now, I would have been here a little earlier, but I got dropped off about five blocks (away) by CTA and I had to walk” the rest of the way, the mayor joked.
“Forrest ain’t here. Whatever. He’ll be here tomorrow to make sure that bus is here every 20 minutes. But, that’s actually a testament to Anthony [Beale] being clear and getting what he deserves and what is appropriate. You don’t build roads. You don’t build great stores like this so people get dropped off five, six blocks away. They’ve got to get in here.”
A CTA spokesman on Monday had said the CTA was talking to Beale about bus service, but would not be able to provide it for Wednesday’s opening. However, Beale said that after he went public with his broken promises charge on Monday, Claypool called him Tuesday; was “very, very apologetic,’’ and promised service.
Less than 24 hours after insisting it could not provide bus service, the CTA posted a map and stops of the new “111A Pullman Shuttle effective Sep. 11” on its website.
Claypool refused to comment, but other CTA sources pointed fingers at the developer of the massive Pullman Park complex that houses the new Walmart for failing to give the transit agency the required 60 days’ notice in advance of the store opening.
“We were running as fast as we could, but we didn’t quite make it. The developer is the culprit,” a CTA source said.
“If we’d gotten the required notice, this would have been a piece of cake,” the source said. “Instead, we’ll start bus service [Wednesday] and work with the developer to get the information we should have gotten months ago about store traffic, how it’ll build over time and what the residential population is likely to be so we can develop a long-term plan that makes sense.”
Beale contended the developer provided detailed information as part of a 2011 signed agreement with the CTA to provide service. The CTA signed off on $20 million in street changes and a bus turnaround area after visiting the site this past January, he said.
The alderman called a “60-day notice” from the developer “a technicality,’’ given that he’s been talking about the Sep. 11 Walmart opening with the CTA for months.
A CTA spokeswoman said the shuttle will run every every 20 minutes on weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., as well as on weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
However, Walmart hours will be much longer — daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Beale said he hopes the permanent solution will extend the temporary hours, especially so weekend evening shoppers won’t have to walk with goods five blocks in the dark to the closest CTA stop.
The new No. 111A will make 10 stops between Pullman Park and 111th, a CTA spokesperson said, and will connect Walmart visitors to portions of both the 111th St. and the 1115th St. bus routes.
The CTA described the route this way: “From 111thStreet/King Drive, #111A buses (to Pullman Park) will operate south on King Drive to 113th Street, then will travel via 115th Street (due to construction reroute), Cottage Grove, 111th Street, Doty to 109th where they will then enter the Pullman Park via private roads and loop around the parking lot and CTA access road. Return trip #111A buses (to 111th/King Drive) will travel to Doty Avenue and travel the reverse route. The route will make connections with the 111th and 115th street bus routes.”
Find the map of the 111A Pullman Shuttle here: http://www.transitchicago.com/riding_cta/busroute.aspx?RouteId=347