After lawmakers fail to act, CTA inches closer to fare hikes, service cuts

The spineless state legislators refused to even let the free rides repeal bill out of committee, so the CTA is now just over three months away. While the $25 million that might have been saved had the free rides law been repealed would not have solved the budget problems, the failure to act sent a message from legislators that they would not be helping the CTA this year.

The CTA board is set to vote Nov. 12 on the 2010 budget, with its service cuts and fare hikes.

And this week the last two public hearings on the budget are set for 6 pm Monday at Lane Tech High School, and 6 pm Tuesday at the South Shore Cultural Center.

The Tattler spouts off on the radio. The good folks at Outside the Loop radio invited me back late last week to talk about free rides for seniors, the fare hike and Apple's move to adopt the North/Clybourn subway station.

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  • Based on what Quinn did, I don't see how you can start the blame game with the legislators. Once he promised a veto, why sit around Springfield? And, unlike Blago's veto threats, he didn't cough up an extra $30 million of funny money to keep the system going pending negotiations.

    This is par for the course for Quinn, like the hoopla for a capital bill that isn't funded and that isn't explained.

    This lets Quinn campaign on the platform that he saved Free Rides, and it was the bad old CTA who raised your fares, cut your service, and laid people off, not him. He says he'll have a conference about it this week, but it looks like that is too late. Just like he started an economic development commission, which meets for the first time this week, and isn't supposed to report for 5 months. Let's hope that's two months after he loses the primary.

  • Jack, you're right that Quinn certainly deserves plenty of blame too. But at least the legislature could have voted it out of committee for a full vote.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    While I have railed about the legislature bottling things up (such as the bill to reduce the vote needed to override a veto in the county board), you can tell I am not much of an advocate for futile measures, either.

  • There's yet another disaster coming.
    Because of sale/leaseback deals, the banks want money from transit agencies.
    Read all about it at the NY Times:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/opinion/02moss.html

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    There were reports that a couple of leaseback deals in which CTA and Metra were involved had problems because they were insured by AIG. See, e.g. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=2&ved=0CAwQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.chicagobreakingnews.com%2F2008%2F10%2Frta-aig-deals-could-cost-investors.html&rct=j&q=cta+%2B+leaseback+%2B+aig&ei=rwTvSp-fBJOKNb3p8MUE&usg=AFQjCNE7zPMBJgsetwkCsoo4oafWo8NMEQ It wasn't reported whether that problem was resolved.

    If one does a search of transitchicago.com for leases, other things like the Orange Line and 6400 series buses are under leasebacks. Those are not just for the tax benefits, but also because CTA took money out on the deal.

    Also, it has never been explained what is the source of money to pay Cerberus for the lease of buses 4000-4149.

  • I have long wanted the fools that run all three transit agencies here to just get some balls & shut the entire system down for a week when the money runs out!
    It would be a nightmare to get around, hundreds of thousands would have no way to get to work, school, shopping or doctors.
    That might finally knock some sense into the downstate assholes that constantly complain about money for Chicago!

  • I've noticed on my 136 route, that it seems a little less frequent the last 2 or so weeks. In the morning and evening, but moreso in the evening. It seems like it has gone from one every 7 minutes to about every 10 according to when I look at BusTracker.

  • Does anyone ever consider reducing the salaries, or even the amount, of senior administrative staff at the CTA? Wouldn't that be at least a good step in the right direction?

  • In reply to ChrisVaughn:

    According to Rodriguez, that's part of the 2010 budget, according to this CTA Tattler post: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/cta-tattler/2009/10/ctas-plan-closes-almost-half-the-300-million-budget-gap.html

  • So I crunched some numbers...I know that it's probably not this straightforward, but it'll give us a rough estimate. According to this article:

    http://www.transitchicago.com/news/default.aspx?ArticleId=2274

    Bus ridership for 2008 was 328.2 million, and rail was 198.2 million. Based on an increase of $0.50 for busses and $0.75 for rail this would generate an additional $312.75 million...and that isn't taking into account any (if past trends prove true) rise in readership.

    The CTA is trying to make up for a $178 million shortfall, but with this plan they will rake in over $300 million...

    Am I totally wrong or ??

    ~k

  • In reply to keturner:

    Keturner: The CTA was figuring ridership would drop due to higher fares and service cuts. Plus, of course, operating costs will go up.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I was under the impression that the higher operating costs were figured into the budget (and therefore in the extra $300 million).

    So if the extra $124 million is going to loss of ridership, that would mean an approximate 10% decrease in daily riders. That plan does not sound sustainable or well thought-out.

  • In reply to keturner:

    Of course, not as strange as the 2007 Doomsday plans, which assumed that if they cut routes, they would lose all the passengers on those routes, and thus lose not only their fares but the subsidies per ride, and thus a $55 million deficit became a $220 million one.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    But if you calculate bus rides at 300 million and rail at 150 million, you still come up with $225 million in extra revenue, which is still a lot more than the $178 million figure they need.

    I'm guess it is just a negotiating tactic. Ask for the moon and be willing to lower your request when you get to the table.

  • In reply to chris:

    Except, again, bus rides on the CTA mean unlinked trips, not originating fares, so the third transfer in 2 hours means no fare was received, but there was an unlinked trip. The fare increases are only on original boardings. Based on unlinked trips, CTA claims to be collecting about $.93 to $1.07 (depending on the month) per trip, even though the originating fare is over $2.00 now.

  • In reply to jack:

    Of course, passes and free fares also go into the per ride calcuation.

  • In reply to jack:

    And I meant third ride on a transfer.

  • In reply to chris:

    Only a fraction of those 525 m rides are people paying full price, and thus paying the regular fare increase. Huge numbers of free rides, discounted rides, multipass rides, and transfers have to be subtracted from that. Maybe it was a negotiating tactic, but when the other side ignores you, you might be stuck implementing what you thought was a bluff.

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