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The Ogden Bus is Coming Back After 12 Years


The new bus route is an old favorite, a revival of the Ogden Avenue bus that used to feed into one of North Lawndale’s main commercial corridors.

The No. 157 bus was once a mainstay for customers and employees going to the businesses along Ogden Avenue. It also allowed Lawndale residents from as far west as Pulaski Road to get Downtown or to the Medical District with no transfers.

But reeling from decades of redlining and disinvestment, West Side businesses struggled to stay afloat, and many of the shops along Ogden Avenue disappeared. The neighborhood’s population also shrunk by 14 percent in the decade leading up to 2010, so the CTA decided to cut to the route.

In 2008, the No. 157 bus stopped serving Ogden Avenue west of California Avenue, cutting off a major section of Lawndale from the rest of the city.

But this summer, the Ogden bus is set to return as part of a pilot program recently approved by the Chicago Transit Board that will realign the No. 52 Kedzie/California bus and the No. 94 South California bus to provide more streamlined service along the city’s grid system.

The pilot will run for one year, after which CTA will evaluate feedback and ridership to determine whether to make the route changes permanent. According to a statement released by the CTA, the agency is aiming to increase ridership on the No. 157 bus by 700 average weekday rides with the extension.

The pilot program comes after Lawndale residents campaigned for years to get the Ogden bus route back into their neighborhood. The North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council’s Quality of Life Plan made the Ogden bus a top priority for making transit safer, for supporting local businesses and helping residents connect to employment opportunities in other parts of the city.

A major advocate for the bus route was Rochelle Jackson, a resident who used to take the Ogden bus to work each day until the route was cut in 2008. As residents and community organizations and North Lawndale began to work together to create a blueprint for improving the neighborhood, Jackson was asked in 2015 if she would be interested in joining a transportation committee that would work on transit solutions for the neighborhood plan.