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When is a bus stop more than a bus stop?
You see them sitting mostly, some standing, waiting for buses along the low walls on either side of the Cook County Forest Preserve District Headquarters gateway building at the northwest corner of Harlem and Lake.

Sometimes the latter mix?#34;comfortably or not?#34;with loitering homeless, and the group can get pretty large.

Rose Slimak is a local commuter. The Oak Park resident is a circulation supervisor at the Oak Park Public Library. She lives near Lombard and Roosevelt, so why is she all the way over here waiting for a bus? Well, in the circuitous world of the Pace transit system, that's the most direct route. In the evening, she walks here from the library, takes the 305 south on Harlem, which turns west at Madison and heads all the way to Desplaines Avenue in Forest Park, then south to Roosevelt Road, then east all the way to Lombard. In the morning, she gets a ride.

Joe, a Melrose Parker, who works as a lab technician at a company on the West Side (the Green Line is also part of his daily routine). During the waits, he listens to music or talks to people. "It's like a little community here," he says of the regulars. "It's a culture."

Felicia Gray owns a house in Bellwood, has three kids and a fiance. She's been commuting about 20 years?#34;to her current job for 14, with People's Energy.

The homeless and alcoholics hang out here, too, she notes, but they don't really bother the commuters. "They have their own little huddle," she says.

Sheila Thomas is a grad student at Dominican University. She's studying for a master's in social work. She lives near the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago and works as a secretary for DCFS. From here, she takes the Green Line, then the #60 Blue Island bus to within a block and a half of her house.

Please consult a revised timetable when available. For more nformation call Pace Customer Services at 847/364-7223.

Fare for adults and children over 12 is $1.50, children 7-11 $.75.

Applications for reduced fare cards and permits for seniors and persons with disabilities may be obtained through RTA by calling 836-7000 (from any Chicagoland area code). Reduced fares apply to students going to and from school activities, twelfth grade or lower, on weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. when a valid School ID is presented. Student fares are effective from the third week of August until the second week of June. Student fares are not valid on weekends or holidays. Students may not use the Reduced Fare CTA/Pace 30-day Pass or the Reduced Commuter Club Card. Reduced Fare 10-Ride tickets and the Haul Pass can be used by students on Pace buses.

For more information about reduced rates or on any of these routes call customer relations at 847/364-7223. TDD: 847/364-5093. (

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