NEWS

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May 26, 2006

New, improved CTA routes in sight

New transportation proposals—including additional and altered CTA routes—are some possibilities that the University is considering for the growing U of C campus.

Transportation and Parking Services held a town hall meeting Wednesday at the Biological Sciences Learning Center for staff and students to discuss new commuting initiatives.

The proposed CTA change would add a Red Line/Green Line shuttle that would provide direct service to the El stations, unlike the #55 bus that continues to Midway Airport. The proposed CTA bus will be open to all and will not be free to students.

Brian Shaw, director of Campus Transportation and Parking Services, said that the CTA is examining this proposed route and determining which stops are viable on the proposed shuttle route and how much money it would cost to operate.

The CTA is also considering altering the #173 bus line in order to improve service.

“The #173 is the lowest ridden route in all of Chicago,” said Deb Garfi, transit operations administrator for the University. “But its ridership is heaviest during its first runs when people are commuting to downtown in the afternoon, and it’s only available during the school year. We’re looking to potentially change the #173 to a commuter route year-round that services during peak rush hours, not into the night.”

Citing the construction on the Dan Ryan Expressway and the rise of gas prices, Shaw said that the University is trying to make public transportation a more attractive alternative for staff. The proposed strategy will provide funding for other modes of travel for staff and adopt a blanket parking rate across campus by 2007. Currently, parking rates south of the Midway are cheaper than north-of-the-Midway spots.

“With the master plan, we are increasing the demand for parking,” Shaw said. “As we follow the directions of the master plan, parking spaces are going to turn into more buildings, which means more people, and that means more demand for parking.”

Transportation Services will encourage staff and faculty to avoid driving, Shaw said, promoting Metra, CTA, carpool, walking, or U of C–sponsored shuttles as better alternatives for making the commute to campus.

Other proposals include lengthening the CTA schedules to 8 p.m. to serve Shoreland residents who eat at Burton-Judson dining hall and lengthening the schedule of the #170 CTA bus for residents of Breckenridge, International House, and the future residents of the dorm south of the Midway.

Donny Copeland, a third-year in the College and the incoming vice president of administration for SG, served on the College Council committee that met with Shaw and Grafi to discuss transportation issues.

Copeland said that improving transportation has been a major priority for College Council. The council has proposed redesigning the late-night buses to be directionally based and to provide more runs.

Copeland cited several problems with the late-night buses, saying that they do not run often enough and have inconvenient stops, “put[ting] an unnecessary strain on the drunk van and creat[ing] a security risk,” he said.

Copeland said the CTA buses “are not well synched with class start times—they arrive consistently three minutes after your class starts.”