By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Concerned residents of the Hyde Park, Kenwood, Woodlawn, Washington Park, and Oakland communities held a press conference Thursday, Sept. 14, at City Hall, to request that Mayor Rahm Emanuel intervene on their behalf in protest of the lack of Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus routes for seniors on the South Side.
“The #1 Bus was rerouted as a result of the CTA Crowding Reduction Plan on Sept. 4, 2012, under former CTA President Forrest Claypool,” said Shannon Bennett, deputy director of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization (KOCO). “We want the #1 Indiana/Hyde Park bus to be fully reinstated to its original route.”
Bennett said that for nearly a year, representatives from CTA led seniors to believe that a pilot program to restore a portion of the “#1 Indiana/Hyde Park bus route, service would soon go into effect after several meetings with the community. But due CTA budget constraints, the plan never came to fruition.
“CTA committed to us that they would restore the #1 Indiana/Hyde Park bus route,” said Alphonso Jones, Hyde Park resident and representative of KOCO. “But they have yet to make good on their promise.”
According to Jones, CTA met with senior residents along with Ald. Sophia King (4th) on three separate occasions in the spring of 2017. Jones said that CTA originally committed to restoring the bus route services to the area but never followed through.
Jones believes that his community deserves better and should have quality equitable transportation options available for seniors, students, families, and community residents in the area.
Jones explained that seniors in the Lincoln Park neighborhood receive double the services than his senior counterparts and that segregation has played a huge role in deduction of services on the south side.
“Lincoln Park has 83 percent white residents and over 10 plus bus routes,” Jones said about the discrepancy in CTA services on the North Side and the South Side. “The Bronzeville and Oakland community has 83 percent black residents with only four bus routes.”
Jones said since services were reduced in the area, seniors no longer feel safe riding the “L” train and feel more comfortable riding the bus. He said that with several churches, senior homes, and large community schools along the original bus route, the highly accessible service has been truly missed by the seniors.
At the end of the protest, a police representative from the mayor’s office exchanged information with the group but had no comment.