This just in: CTA to Balance Budget Without Service Cuts or Fare Increase.
Tribune story here.
Look for more later from CTA Tattler.
CTA budget news, CTA in the news
CTA fare increase, CTA service cuts
Oh they'll have to be more severe next year to pay for whatever shenanigans they're doing this year.
My guess here is that RRod finally figured out how much of a budget problem he has over the next year or so, so doing little cuts this year only costs him political capital to do the nasty ones next year. Doing it all at once makes the most political sense.
What was probably off the table was a big hack right now, for purely political reasons of olympic proportions, if you get my drift. It's too bad, because they've basically spent precious capital dollars keeping services running that aren't going to be there next year. They could have used those capital dollars to shore-up the assets needed to run the services that will still be there when this is all over (will it?).
If there's a upside to this, MK, is that this buys time for them to put together a strategy vis-a-vis their bus union. They've shown NO signs, at least publically, that they've had one up to this point. But as soon as everyone realizes that CTA employees have been getting raises every year, including this year, while the economy rots and services are cut, the political climate may change.
I'm on the fence about this. I'm, of course, happy there won't be cuts. However, it's true, the CTA could very easily make cuts this year that it has needed or wanted to make for some time and blame them on the economy, whereas usually it's harder to find something to blame them on. There are a few bus routes that probably have outlived their usefulness, #64 and #200 for example. Keeping routes like these that nobody rides anyway leaves the CTA weaker than it could be as it goes forward. Cutting what it can now will let it improve service more later.
More than just a coincidence that this heroic move to trim the budget so that cuts wouldn't be made occurred on the same day that Daley made his "State of the City" address? Half the amount was probably already taken care of when the Ronettes followed the leader.
I can't help feeling that any time a transit agency can stave off service cuts, it's all to the good. That's one more year that transit-dependent workers on the reprieved routes get to keep their jobs. One more year that kids under 16, people who can't afford to keep a car, and those prevented by age, disability, or some other cause from driving can hold onto their mobility, and the independence and dignity that come with being able to determine for yourself where you will go and when. One more year of breathing space for hard-pressed neighborhoods before they have to take yet another blow to their economic and social vitality.
I'm biased, no doubt, by having an adult son who depends on the CTA, along with his bike and his feet, for all his travels around the city, and by living in one of those neighborhoods that have already lost much of our bus service in the past and will certainly be first in line for the next round of cuts.
When the minimum headway between buses on a line is 15 minutes, you notice a cut. When "blocks away from other routes" translates to a quarter of a mile, eliminating the route--or eliminating all service outside of weekday morning-to-evening rush hours--leaves a half mile between bus lines. I have a feeling you don't have much experience using transit in the neighborhoods where those conditions prevail, and where a 15% cut in service would really be felt. Maybe I'm wrong about that. Maybe, too, the CTA would have left neighborhoods like mine alone this time. They haven't in the past.
Sorry, my geographic gene must have ducked out for a smoke when I typed the second sentence above. What I should have written--since I had a particular, actual example in mind--was "translates into a quarter of a mile in one direction and three-quarters in the other, eliminating the route--or eliminating all service outside of weekday morning-to-evening rush hours--leaves a mile between bus lines."
The Rattery regrets the error.
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