posted by chicago pop
If you read the Maroon or the Editors Blog, this is old news. Thanks to Alec Brandon for tipping us off this past Sunday, and to the Maroon, from which the most very comical illustration by Tom Tian above was taken.
The scoop? Hairston's office wants to, and sounds like it will, remove the northbound 171 bus stop at University and 57th Street, to add room for (free) street parking.
Here's Brandon's take, which is pithy enough to be quoted here:
This is just insane. The utility people get from four parking spots can't outweigh the inconvenience to hundreds of students. I have no idea why Hairston is trying to do this, but it just seems insane.
I agree. It is insane. This is like selling your pancreas for another hit of whatever. It makes absolutely no sense. 550 people use that bus stop every day. You trade that for 4 cars, which could sit there for days. It's a quick fix -- not even a fix, really -- for a much more complicated problem.
Hairston's office is keeping quiet on just what set this decision in motion. So what comes of it? A decision to reroute a bus from a strategic stop at the heart of campus, causing all sorts of complications -- like getting north- and southbound CTA buses to pass each other on Ellis -- in order to add 4 more spots to the curbside inventory.
Four more spots.
Here's what Hairston had to say, quoted from the Maroon:
“As you are well aware, [there is a] lack of parking in Hyde Park and a balance must be kept between bus service and parking for residents,” Hairston said on Friday in an e-mail to Ronald Weslow, a member of the CTA’s traffic and engineering crew.
According to Director of Campus Transportation and Parking Services Brian Shaw, over 550 people use the endangered stop on an average day, making it the second-busiest bus stop on campus.
Note that there are no metered parking spaces there. Nor is this a primarily residential block. Conceivably, I could park my uncle's VW bus there while he spends a week or two in Thailand and no one would notice. If you did the same thing for your uncle, that's 2 spots out of circulation for a few weeks. Perhaps the logic here is that, by adding these 4 new spots on University, it will become easier to park over on Dorchester. Hmm.
Even if these spots turned over much more regularly, adding inventory at the expense of a well-routed and heavily used bus route is just backward.
The northbound 171 makes 2 key stops: the first, right across the corner from the Reynolds Club, at University and 57th; the second, right across from Pierce at University and 55th. I see mobs of students at both stops day and night.
We've heard from a lot of students about how difficult it is to get out of Hyde Park using public transportation; the last thing anyone needs is for it to be more difficult to get around within Hyde Park.
And it doesn't solve the problem! Adding parking is like adding lanes to a freeway -- no sooner do you build them, but they are congested again!
This isn't the first time, apparently, that parking spots for a few vehicles have been given preference over room for public transportation. Hairston has blocked other, proposed bus stops nearby.
[Director of Campus Transportation and Parking Services Brian] Shaw ... has been trying to get a bus stop for the #174 El shuttle between Cottage Grove and Ellis Avenues since the route was introduced a year-and-a-half ago, but the alderman’s concerns about parking halted his efforts.Here, too, we're talking a handful of spots for a bus stop that could improve mobility for all sorts of people coming and going to the science and hospital complexes.
There's a lot Hairston could be doing to reduce congestion and free up parking in Hyde Park. Like putting meters on the Midway. But that would be a bold initiative, rather than stealing from Peter to pay Paul.