How the CTA bridged its $35 million budget gap without service cuts or fare hikes

Using a combination of savings on labor, maintenance, fuel and the proverbial "other expenses," the CTA was able to avoid service cuts and more fare increases in filling another gaping budget hole -- this one about $35 million deep.

Earlier this year, the CTA took action on the first $155 million gap by both trimming expenses ($15.3 million in cuts) and increasing revenues ($139.4 million, most of it by transferring capital funds to pay for preventive maintenance).

Here's where the latest $35 million in cuts come from:

1.  $12.5 million in labor savings from:

  • Reduction in Overtime
  • Delay in Raises for Exempt Employees
  • Hiring Freeze in Early 2009
  • Furlough Days

2.  $5.8 million in savings on materials and fuel:

  • Parking of NABI buses
  • New Buses

3.  $16.7 million savings on "other expenses":

  • Reduction of Non-Essential Travel and Seminars
  • Decrease in Cost of Utilities
  • Reduction in Cost of Equipment Maintenance Services

That totals $34.7 million in cuts and savings. Add in $900,000 in revenue increases due to projected ridership increases, and the CTA fills the $35 million gap -- barely.

From CTA Board Chairwoman Carole Brown:

"The CTA was conservative in its budgeting this year and staff has
diligently controlled costs. That foresight and continued fiscal
discipline has put us in the position to be able to manage through this
latest reduction in funding without reducing service or impacting
customers.  But let's be clear, there is no margin for error going
forward. In order to get through the
rest of the year, we have to aggressively monitor costs and we have to
hope that there are no unanticipated costs or further funding
reductions."

Comments

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  • Well, looks like they did do furlough days like I and others had suggested on this board after all.

    Good to see they eliminated some positions as well.

    I do have to wonder what these items are:

    "Reduction in non-revenue fuel expense"

    This was almost $1 million. Is this for not having to idle buses in the winter?

    "Bus and Rail Schedule efficiencies"

    I don't remember them making any modifications to the rail schedule. It's interesting they saved so much on the bus schedule with just a few minor changes. That leaves me hope that if they decide to eliminate some more bus stops and some redundant or no longer necessary routes, they can save significantly more in the future.

  • My rough reactions (I suppose that the critics will be after me again for being angry, but here goes):

    1. Rodriguez didn't need our help after all, as I previously indicated.

    2. Somehow, apparently he was able to cut about $200 million out of a 2009 budget recommendation of $1.325 trillion. On the other hand, in 2005, supposedly draconian service cuts were needed to take care of a $55 million shortfall in an about $800 million budget, and it was blamed on paratransit.

    Ergo, either:
    1. The CTA and RTA can't go to the legislature again, especially given that the 2005-2008 excursion didn't go so well, and others tried to pile on the taxes since then (primarily Stroger, whose action did not help sales in Cook County, where the RTA tax actually going to the RTA is 1.25% instead of 0.5% in the other counties).

    2. The 2005-2007 Doomsday was a political stunt, especially given that to rely on service cuts, they factored in lost ridership, and thus lost fares and lost subsidies, thereby proposing cuts of $225 million for a $55 million problem. Again, we know who engineered that, and their names started with F and C.

    ____________________

    Chris--a nonrevenue vehicle is not a bus or train. It is a money truck, maintenance truck, supervisor's SUV, etc. Maybe, read up instead of speculate.

  • In reply to jack:

    "Chris--a nonrevenue vehicle is not a bus or train. It is a money truck, maintenance truck, supervisor's SUV, etc. Maybe, read up instead of speculate."

    That was my first thought, but there's no way they saved nearly $1 million from less vehicles for employees, etc.

    Plus, the line item says, "Reduction in Non-Revenue Fuel : $ 990 K"

    It does not say "Non-revenue vehicle" as you stated. Why don't YOU read up on what the report says instead of being a complete dick and jumping all over my case.

  • In reply to jack:

    "Chris--a nonrevenue vehicle is not a bus or train. It is a money truck, maintenance truck, supervisor's SUV, etc. Maybe, read up instead of speculate."

    That was my first thought, but there's no way they saved nearly $1 million from less vehicles for employees, etc.

    Plus, the line item says, "Reduction in Non-Revenue Fuel : $ 990 K"

    It does not say "Non-revenue vehicle" as you stated. Why don't YOU read up on what the report says instead of being a complete dick and jumping all over my case.

  • In reply to chris:

    Had to use a profane term to characterize me twice, huh?*

    So, if you know, tell me how they can use different fuel to fill the tank of a bus so that it can differentiate between that used by the bus when collecting fares and idling.

    If they meant that they were reducing fuel use by reducing idling, they would have said it.

    ___
    * I am awaiting your apology.

  • In reply to jack:

    I never claimed to know where the savings came from. This is why I asked a question, hence the question mark after the sentence. I still do want to know where this savings came from.

    But YOU are the one who said I should "read up" when you are the one who obviously misread the line item. The logic blows ones mind when you realize that you are telling others to do what you have failed to do.

    So, don't hold your breath on any apologies. Better yet, do hold your breath...

  • In reply to chris:

    I regret that there is not a personal messenger function to this, as personal comments don't belong in the forum, but since you have used it to make unfounded personal attacks on me, here goes, Chris:

    It is obvious from your postings that not only are you a CTA Apologist, you are a fairly uninformed one. You wouldn't be playing word games with Rodriguez's euphemisms if you weren't.

    You, purporting to be an expert in psychology, try to diagnose me as having anger management problems, but use terms like "dick" and "do hold your breath." So, having made a psychological diagnosis of me, how about diagnosing the anger and cognitive difficulties demonstrated by your last three posts?

    I don't know if you are a child whose mommy should wash out his mouth with soap and take away his computer, or just an adult acting in the manner I described in the second paragraph. However, since you aren't worthy of response with regard to any substantive issue posted on this board, I will just ignore you (and your friend Simple, if he comes back) in the future.

    Nothing angry about that. Bye, bye.

  • In reply to jack:

    Unfounded? You jumped all over me while saying I should "read up". This is funny because you then proceeded to misquote what they CTA report said and then chastise me for it. That was unfounded. The funny part is that not only will you not admit this, you must argue about other things that were not at the center of what was being discussed. I guess you feel like if you distract everyone enough, they'll be impressed with your posts.

    As for the rest of what you wrote, I have done none of those things within the confines of this blog posting. I haven't attempted to be a CTA apologist, play word games, or do an expert in psychology.

    It's funny you mention ignoring me cause that's what I've been doing for some time now. That is, until you insulted me...

    Anyway, I'll leave you with a Jay-Z quote and take his advice. "A wise man told me don

  • In reply to chris:

    Chris and Jack -- I really have to say to you both -- chill out!

    Please, no more personal attacks.

    I like what you both bring to the discussion, obviously with different viewpoints, and that's good. But this stuff doesn't merit getting all up in each other's faces about it.

    I hope you both continue commenting, and do it without insulting each other. Thank you.

    Kevin

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Sorry Mike. Didn't mean to spoil your board with this.

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