UPTOWN — Seniors from the Wilson Yards Senior Apartments value their independence. And part of that independence comes from riding the Route 36 Bus.
When the CTA recently removed the stop at Montrose Avenue and Broadway, many seniors from the Wilson Yards Senior Apartments felt blindsided by their alderman. On Tuesday morning, about a dozen seniors showed up unannounced to Ald. James Cappleman’s (46th) office, demanding to know why the stop was removed without a community meeting.
Now, instead of boarding at Montrose Avenue and Broadway, seniors have to cross a long and busy intersection to board a new bus stop further south on Broadway.
Derrick Harris is retired and lives at the Wilson Yards Senior Apartments. He helped to mobilize seniors and put out a press release about their frustration.
“This decision was made without any input from the community,” he said. “We were not even afforded the civic decency of being allowed to be a part of the process. Because it does affect us in a real way.”
When the seniors showed up at Cappleman’s office Tuesday morning, they were met by Tressa Feher, Cappleman’s chief of staff. She said her office had been fielding constant calls about a dangerous bus stop a block south on Cullom Avenue.
Drivers who pull out of the driveway on Cullom had to make a blind turn into oncoming traffic. That turn was made even more dangerous by the 36 Bus stopping right in front of the driveway.
Feher said it took the CTA “almost a year” to come up with a solution.
Steve Mayberry, a CTA spokesman, said the new location was made to improve speed and reliability by improving traffic flow. It also allowed the CTA to consolidate with one other southbound stop, he said.
“CTA routinely analyzes its existing service levels to better improve the quality of service to our customers,” Mayberry said. “This very frequently includes relocating bus stops from before a stop light to a location across the street — the far side — which is in line with CTA’s preferred service planning standards.”
After the impromptu protest, Feher told Block Club that Cappleman’s office has requested that the CTA review the changes made to the bus stop.
“I’m asking them to review moving the southbound Montrose/Broadway stop back to its original location,” she said.
At the protest, Harris and other seniors said their biggest complaint was the lack of communication from Cappleman’s office. Feher said Cappleman’s office was notified about the bus stop change sometime in the spring.
Harris called the lack of notification, “egregious.”
“If I had known about it I certainly would have voiced my opinion,” said Harris. “[Cappleman] should consult with the community before making those decisions.”
Another senior from the Wilson Yards Apartment complex said crossing the long diagonal crosswalk is challenging for her. She has trouble getting across the long crosswalk before the light turns green.
“I have to stop at least 10 times before I get to where I’m going now,” she said.
Feher said that Cappleman’s office was caught off guard by the community outrage. She said because the 46th ward is so densely populated, bus stops are moving all the time.
“We have never had this type of response from moving a bus stop before,” she said.
Feher said Cappleman’s office would be better in the future about including such changes in the weekly newsletter.
“We didn’t put this in the newsletter,” she said. “And that is definitely something we should do in the future.”
Paul McKinley came to Cappleman’s office on behalf of his uncle, who lives at the Wilson Yards Senior Apartments. He said many of the seniors were afraid to come, because of fear of retaliation.
“Lots of seniors are afraid to make noise,” he said.
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