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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday June 16th 2024

Transit – Safety and comfort, real and perceived, is needed equally for all routes


Even though this month is the quarterly schedule change, it”'s a fairly slow month for transit news. In Phillips, only Routes 9 and 19 had any changes, and they were just minor adjustments to make the scheduled bus times more closely align with how long the route really takes.

That said, I convinced my roommate to try taking the bus to a May Day volunteer meeting at In the Heart of the Beast Theatre (and he encourages everyone to donate $5.00 to the May Day parade). He told me his story:

He started on an eastbound 2. All was good until the detour through Stevens Square, where some “unsavory” characters boarded the bus. They got off at Chicago. My roommate got off at 13th Ave. to transfer to the 14. There were several people hovering around that bus stop, apparently waiting for something other than the bus. They stared at him like he didn”'t belong there, making him concerned that an incident was brewing, so he walked to Bloomington and 24th before the 14 showed up. The bus bench there was covered in snow, rendering it unusable. The ride on the 14 was, fortunately, uneventful. This was all in broad daylight, during the PM rush hour.

By the time he left the meeting, it had gotten dark outside. He got on a 21 to Uptown. Luckily, that ride was peaceful, which as most people know, isn”'t a given on the 21 at night. At Uptown, he decided to take a 17 and walk the last few blocks home instead of waiting the extra ten minutes or so for a 6. Two men were gearing up for a fight on the bus. One passenger asked the driver to “do something” but of course that didn”'t happen.

Some takeaways: the perception of safety is lacking on some bus routes and at some stops. Bus stop amenities seem lacking at quite a few stops. There should be lighting at more bus stops at night. Bus benches should be shoveled out of the snowbanks. And shelters need to be more weatherproof. We should look to Canada for bus shelter designs since our weather is similar. And maybe an attended public restroom and/or newsstand at hubs like Uptown and Chicago-Lake would be nice. Metro Transit claims to want to attract “choice” riders. Mark my words: the perception of safety and comfort is just as important as the actuality.

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