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CTA combats train crowding by adding some rail service and cutting 12 bus routes

The No. 11 Lincoln/Sedgwick bus route is proposed be cut. | TinSfondeles~Sun-Times

The No. 11 Lincoln/Sedgwick bus route is proposed to be cut. | Tina Sfondeles~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 22, 2012 4:18PM

Tumbling into a fellow commuter’s arms or accidentally stomping another CTA train rider’s foot could become a bit less frequent by the end of the year.

The CTA says it’s proposing to run one to three more trains during the morning and evening rush-hour commutes in a “de-crowding” plan that also includes cutting 12 bus routes with low ridership to add service to high-demand bus and train routes across the city.

The trains CTA riders pile into during rush hour rides sometimes wind up jammed with more than 90 people. The new goal is to lower that number to between 70 and 75.

The plan must be approved by the CTA board after a public hearing on Sept. 4. If passed, the changes would begin as soon as Dec. 16.

The CTA plans to eliminate sparsely used routes that overlap with other CTA routes or Pace bus routes with the cuts to save the agency $16 million.

“The CTA’s goal is to provide a comfortable and efficient experience for customers, as well as accommodate growing ridership, which has risen for 16 consecutive months, adding 22 million new riders since June of 2011,” CTA President Forrest Claypool said in a statement. “This route restructuring, based on comprehensive review of the entire transit system, is long overdue and is the first system-wide, holistic review of CTA’s bus and rail service in 15 years.”

The CTA has experienced a four percent increase in bus ridership so far for the first six months of the year and a six percent boost in train ridership, a spokesman said.

The proposed plan would add service to 48 routes, described as the busiest and most crowded bus routes in the city.

In most of the 12 routes that would be discontinued, there is duplicate CTA bus or rail service or overlapping service by Pace.

Julie Lovison is a frequent rider of the No.11 Lincoln/Sedgwick bus, which is one of the routes seeing its service cut between Western and Fullerton.

Who’s on that bus? Seniors, young adults getting to and from work and moms with strollers, according to Lovison. She said the cuts will affect her route to work as a piano teacher in the Gold Coast at Lake Shore Music Studio.

But her main concern is for seniors getting on the bus heading north to Lincoln Square.

“There’s a senior living facility just before Wrightwood that the bus stops right in front of,” Lovison said. “A lot of the seniors come up to shop and then they go back home. I don’t think they can take the train. It goes fast and sure you have elevators but what are they going to do with a station that doesn’t have one? It’s much easier to have a bus stop right in front of where they live.”

The routes that would be eliminated under the plan also include:

■ X28 Stony Island Express

■ 64 Foster-Canfield

■ 69 Cumberland/East River

■ 122 Illinois Center/Oglivie Express

■ 123 Illinois Center/Union Express

■ 129 West Loop/South Loop

■ 144 Marine/Michigan Express

■ 145 Wilson/Michigan Express

For train riders, 17 rail trips will be added to six lines, mostly on the Blue, Red and Brown lines, the CTA’s busiest train routes. That accounts for an additional 10,000 rides on a weekday, officials said.

During weekday off-peak times, Red, Brown and Orange lines will increase by as much as 2 1/2 minutes between trains. On weekends, service will be increased on the Red, Brown and Blue Lines.

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