The Inter-House Council is revisiting the hours of operation for the weekend South Loop Shuttle, with many members citing low ridership as a reason to reduce evening service to and from the Roosevelt Red Line station in the South Loop. At the same time, a number of CTA service reductions and route eliminations went into effect this past Sunday as the CTA tries to make up for the almost $300-million budget deficit it faces this year. In light of these cutbacks and their effect on available transportation to and from the South Side, the University should avoid further cuts and reconsider the transportation options it provides to students.
U of C students are isolated as it is, and recent cuts will only compound the problem. Grappling with funding cuts and revenue shortages, the CTA has eliminated a number of routes, including the X55 Garfield Express, and has reduced the frequency of many more, including the #6 Jackson Park Express and the #55 Garfield. Many students returning to Hyde Park after hours use the Jackson Park Express, and its new end time of 12:30 a.m. would mean that more students would need to ride the El southbound to the relatively unsafe Garfield Red Line station.
The South Loop Shuttle, which currently runs from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., would still be a safe alternative to the El, but the University’s proposal to cut hours from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m. will compel students returning from downtown after 2 a.m. to use the El. Given the CTA’s cuts, which leave the Red Line as the only option after 12:30 a.m., it is more important than ever for the University to keep the shuttle running late into the night. At the very least, the University should allow the regular South Loop Shuttle hours to continue into the spring quarter before it reevaluates the program’s use, given that low ridership could merely be a reflection of below-freezing temperatures and not of a lack of enthusiasm.
CTA service cuts mean longer waits for buses downtown and fewer opportunities to get home safely, resulting in expensive late- night cab fares or, more likely, even fewer trips downtown than before. The University should remain committed to the original purpose of the South Loop Shuttle: to give “members of the University community easy access to downtown locations at a time when other options are limited.”
— The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and three Editorial Board members.