Devon dilemma

The Trib has a middling article by Noreen Ahmed-Ullah on traffic problems along Devon Avenue:

The parking pinch is a sign of Devon’s coming of age, but some worry that it is an example of a bustling ethnic neighborhood choking on its own prosperity. Urban planners say the crowding is not necessarily a bad thing. They warn that any improvements to the area must find a delicate balance, enhancing the street without taking away its ethnic flair… Irv Loundy, past president of the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce, said Devon has a larger concentration of South Asian stores than anywhere else in the United States.

Here’s my little solution: combine the 49-Western and 49B-North Western buses, which are two separate routes only because of the most archaic of reasons. (The two ends of the #10 Western streetcar route were converted to buses back in 1948. When CTA converted the #49 middle segment to buses fifty years ago, they didn’t eliminate the distinction.) Extend the Western route east along Howard for one mile to the Howard terminal, and run express service seven days.

And voila: it’s now a one-seat ride from the Illinois Medical Center* (thanks to the medical students, it’s the third largest concentration of South Asians in the city after West Rogers Park and Hyde Park) to the heart of Devon. Since Western runs perpendicular to Devon, it avoids the traffic jams on Devon. The connection to Howard makes a better connection to the Red/Purple/Yellow lines than the current Devon-bus-via-Morse connection, which also has the disadvantage of getting stuck in said traffic on Devon.

* and Wicker Park, of course, but really, this isn’t just self-interest.