Residents of Evanston’s West Side would be able to take a free shuttle to the big Saturday downtown farmers’ market next year under a plan proposed by the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Dept., according to its director, Doug Gaynor.

Residents of Evanston’s West Side would be able to take a free shuttle to the big Saturday downtown farmers’ market next year under a plan proposed by the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Dept., according to its director, Doug Gaynor.

By the same token, residents in various city neighborhoods would be able to ride the shuttle from their homes to the West End market at Church Street and Dodge Avenue, Gaynor told a meeting of the Friends of the Evanston Markets today.

Because his department already owns the buses, the only marginal expense for the program would be the labor cost for the drivers, he said. The shuttle would run a regular route through the city while the markets were in operation, he added.

The shuttles would serve a dual purpose. It would make the downtown market more accessible to persons of limited financial means, and it would presumably draw more customers to the struggling West End market.

Zollie Webb, the city employee who manages the downtown market, noted that programs are available to help low-income residents purchase fresh produce at the markets. One program, the federally financed and state administered Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, provides vouchers to persons over 60 who have household incomes of not more than 185 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines. These vouchers are distributed by the city at the Levy Center.

The Illinois Link Program distributes food and cash assistance benefits authorized under several federal and state programs. Eligible participants receive a Link card that they swipe at a terminal operated by the city’s customer service staff at the market that prints chits they can use to purchase eligible food items from farmers.

Webb and Gaynor stressed that the shuttle program at this point is just a proposal that needs approval within the city’s usual budgeting process and is not yet a “done deal.”

The downtown market operates from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., while the West End market is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both markets are open weekly on Saturdays.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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2 Comments

  1. Lead a horse to water….

    Can I ask why there is such a push to get those from the ‘west side’ to the farmer’s market? Those that live on the ‘west side’ are closer than most to the market and simply don’t want to go. So what? It’s their choice.

    What about those on the south side? Who is going to pick them up and give them free rides? What about the north side residents? They may want a ride as well.  Maybe the College students would like a van to shuttle them down there each Satuday as well. Why just the ‘west side’?What’s next?  A 50% discount if you show that you live in the 5th ward?

    There is a farmers market smack-dab in the center of the "west side" and no one attends. So why does the city have to use tax dollars to shuttle people somewhere they don’t want to go? Sounds a bit biased.

  2. “Only” marginal expense?

    ?"Because his department already owns the buses, the only marginal expense for the program would be the labor cost for the drivers, he said. The shuttle would run a regular route through the city while the markets were in operation, he added."

    What about the additional fuel charges?  The additional insurance to run the shuttles?  How about the pension amounts for these drivers?  Will they be union employees? Now we have to worry about legal fees to negotiate contracts with the unions? 

    What about the people who happen to get left there? Do we them give them taxi vouchers to ensure they get home safely? 

    I could go on and on.  The main point here is that if funds were unlimited we could give everyone a free ride.  Why during this budget crunch do people continue to look for ways for spending even more money?  Should we not look for ways to minimize costs and review our city’s business process to eliminate waste and redundancy?  This is the time to halt all spending and spend our time in review.

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