CTA's blistering response to the RTA, Pace on paratransit funding

CTA board Chairwoman Carole Brown is mad as hell, and she's willing to tell you all about it. And she does in her report to the board this month about ADA paratransit funding.

The controversy started in July when the Pace board voted to use $12 million in capital funds to cover a $20 million budget shortfall for its paratransit services. The CTA supported that move, but opposed the RTA giving more of its scarce capital dollars -- earmarked for CTA and Metra -- so Pace could close the remaining $8 million gap.

Here's some of Brown's statement:

I cannot in good conscience support the diversion of scarce capital resources away from CTA when more capital dollars are greatly needed to maintain efficient mainline service and to upgrade facilities and vehicles so that disabled people in the region can have wider access to transit service. I want to reiterate that CTA supports full funding of ADA paratransit service so that no one in the disability community is left behind. We are simply requesting that Pace evaluate the use of their own operating and capital funds to cover this one time shortfall before taking scarce federal funds from CTA.

And she reiterated her position in this letter published in the Tribune last week.

Eventually, RTA directors did come up with more cash for Pace, but riders of the paratransit service were hit with a fare increase of 50 to 75 cents, depending on where they live.

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  • Well, she makes a good point in this case.

    I won't speak of her past.

  • Old news. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. Also now moot, since the RTA says it has a solution.

  • If you want to discuss the merits of a paratransit fare increase, as indicated by your statement that "Eventually, RTA directors did come up with more cash for Pace, but riders of the paratransit service were hit with a fare increase of 50 to 75 cents, depending on where they live," instead of the obvious point that regional cooperation and Carole Brown have always been complete strangers, note the following:

    *The RTA Act requires a recovery ration of 10% for paratransit. 70 ILCS 3615/4.01(b)(ii). Thus, if Carole and other reports are correct that the cost per ride has risen from about $25.00 to $40.00 in the past 3 years since Pace has taken over, state law mandates that the fare be $4.00.

    * The Notice of Hearing doesn't say a $3.00 uniform fare, but "An increase in ADA Paratransit fares to the maximum allowable by law which is twice the amount of cash fares for fixed route." That would be $4.50 in Chicago.

    So, any way you look at it, paratransit fares are going up.

    BTW, I had previously commented that Pace has to explain how costs got out of control, even though it was given responsibility because it was more experienced with regard to coordinating paratransit. I also don't know if Pace is asking for more at the hearings to cover itself if it intents only to implement a rise to $3.00.

    Finally, with all the calls for a "permanent funding solution for paratransit," I thought that was what the 2008 bill was for. As Nelson Muntz says, "ha ha."

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