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CTA’s de-crowding plan gets mixed reviews

Kathleen Ijams 64 Chicago boards Number 11 Lincoln Avenue CTA bus Wednesday December 12 2012. Ijams heart patient 10 medications

Kathleen Ijams, 64, of Chicago boards the Number 11 Lincoln Avenue CTA bus Wednesday, December 12, 2012. Ijams, a heart patient on 10 medications, depends on this bus route to get to the hospital and is among those fighting to save the bus from a Sunday shutdown. I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 18, 2013 6:22AM

Monday is the first weekday and workday that Chicagoans will feel the effect of increased CTA service on 48 bus routes and six rail lines. Service is being trimmed or eliminated on 16 bus routes.

The reshuffling actually started Sunday. CTA President Forrest Claypool says the “de-crowding” plan means additional buses and trains will come more frequently and give riders more breathing room.

“We’re treating our customers, unfortunately, like sardines,” especially during rush hour, Claypool said in an interview aired Sunday on WLS-TV.

The reaction Sunday from Lincoln Square — which saw changes on bus and rail lines — was mixed.

The Brown Line is getting beefed-up service, and some riders at the Western Avenue stop said they had noticed there were more trains and shorter waits.

Nicole Anderson, 30, of Rogers Park, just missed a train on the Brown Line onSunday morning. “I only had to wait another two or three minutes for a new one,” she said.

But some business owners and commuters warned that the CTA is making a big mistake by discontinuing the nearby No. 11 bus on Lincoln Avenue, which swarmed with Christmas shoppers Sunday.

“Eight days before Christmas! That’s inconceivable,” said Sam Wolfson, owner of String a Strand bead store, 4632 N. Lincoln. “A lot of businesses are going to go bankrupt.”

Nearly half of the No. 11 route — from Western to Fullerton — was eliminated Sunday.

The CTA is eliminating a dozen “low-ridership” bus routes and discontinuing segments on four routes. The savings will enable the agency to offer additional service on busy bus and rail lines, easing overcrowding and improving reliability, according to the CTA. Officials are touting alternative service routes that they say mean short walks to other bus or rail stops.

But No. 11 proponents say walking a few extra blocks or waiting for a second bus is tough on seniors, particularly during the winter.

Without the No. 11, Lincoln Square’s Corrie Fisher, who doesn’t own a car, said she’ll have to figure out a different way to get to one of her 4-year-old daughter Cecelia’s favorite places. “We’re sad,” Fisher said. “The 11 gives us the best access to the [Lincoln Park] Zoo.”

Liza Martin, director of the North Center Senior Satellite, said she was devastated Sunday when she went to her No. 11 bus stop and saw all signs of the route had vanished.

“They took down the poles. They took down the signs,” Martin said. “They took them all down in the middle of the night. . . . It kind of reminds you of Meigs Field.”

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