The College Council (CC) discussed the proposal for a new Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) #173 bus route which would provide students in the new dorm south of the Midway access to downtown at CC’s meeting last Wednesday.
The new plan has already been approved by the department of campus transportation and parking facilities and the CTA. The CTA has tested the route, refined a map, and provided a cost estimate, according to third-year CC representative and planner Jarrod Wolf. Next, the proposal will be discussed at the Transportation Student Advisory Board (TSAB) meeting in February. According to Wolf, if the proposal passes in the TSAB meeting, the decision will move to Student Government.
Wolf proposed a new #173 route last spring which was enacted this year and runs from the Reynolds Club to the Gleacher Center downtown.
“The idea for this bus is to provide students who, after next year, will be moving from East Hyde Park, where they have access to downtown via the #6 bus and the Metra, to the new dorm, where their closest option of transportation is the CTA Green Line,” Wolf said.
The proposed bus would stop in front of the new dorm, in front of the Regenstein Library, and on South Hyde Park Boulevard, where the #6 bus also stops. The bus would then stop at East Roosevelt Road and South State Street, where students can transfer to the Orange, Green, and Red CTA Lines, as well as to the Metra.
The bus would run from 7 a.m. through 11 p.m. during the week, with Friday service extending to 2 a.m. On Saturdays, the bus would begin running at noon and continue through 2 a.m.
Wolf said that the bus will allow students coming from anywhere in the city to connect to the new #173 and take this bus directly to the center of campus.
Wolf sees the benefits as extensive and said it is in the University’s best interest to support the reroute.
“This new bus will mean increased student welfare, will allow students to interact with the city more often, as well as encourage students to get out of Hyde Park and explore the neighborhoods and cultures,” Wolf said.
Wolf said the new bus is necessary to simplify the University’s transportation network, as well as increase access for students living across the Midway. It will also replace a route that is underutilized, he said.
“The CTA #173 is the least used service, as of last year,” Wolf said.
The proposal for the new bus route, written by Wolf with significant input from Director of Campus Transportation and Parking Facilities Brian Shaw, stresses the benefits to the student body in terms of safety and security.
“I think this bus is a lot better than considering the U-Pass,” Wolf said of the former proposal that would have given students unlimited access to CTA buses and trains. “Essentially, the U-Pass doesn’t improve your service to downtown.”
Wolf said that although the plan has been approved by the CTA, they are still investigating its feasibility.
“The problem is that the frequency we want the bus to run makes the cost of this project $100,000, [which is] more than the #173 and #174 currently,” Wolf said.
The University, which has final say on the plan, has indicated that this cost is their main concern. Wolf stressed the importance of funding for the plan.
“Unfortunately, better service costs more money,” Wolf said.
Fourth-year Christina Melander, interim CC Chair, also said that the decision will ultimately be based on the cost of the new route.
“If the new route is more expensive than the current one, then this will be the largest issue to deal with, as it could affect students’ cost of tuition,” Melander said.
However, Wolf said he anticipates that the Booth School of Business will contribute some funding, as the bus would mean greatly improved service for many graduate students.
“This bus is not a free bus,” Wolf stressed. “This would help to bridge the community and students because there are many people in the entirety of Hyde Park that will benefit from this bus.”
If the proposal gets the green light from the University, a six-month trial period would begin at the start of Fall Quarter. Wolf said he hopes the start date will popularize the route.
“Having the bus run during O-Week would introduce incoming students immediately to the new route,” Wolf said.