Friday roundup: train door problems; weekend service changes; Holiday Train debuts

There's been plenty of news this week that I haven't had a chance to report. Here's my attempt to catch up:

Train door problems persist. The Sun-Times and Trib reported that a Red Line train door stayed open between Addison and Sheridan. This comes on top of the Morse stroller incident. Now the union is calling for the return of conductors on the rails. Except, that would cost $19 million per year. I don't think so.

RTA OKs CTA service cuts. The RTA board Thursday formally approved Gov. Quinn's plan to borrow $166 million to stave off fare hikes. But service hours cuts will go into effect, unless the CTA can convince the union to take furlough days or wage cuts. 

Red Line weekend changes. Southbound Red Line trains will skip Granville, Thorndale and Bryn Mawr from 10 pm Friday till 6 pm Saturday for track work. Meanwhile, more frequent service will run on the Red Line for the Magnificent Mile Parade late Saturday. Also, many bus routes will be affected, so check out the CTA site.

Holiday Train debuts. And of course, don't forget that Santa starts riding the rails this weekend. Ho ho ho!

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  • They have been switching over to the new tower in the loop... Not sure if it's related to your issue Ed.

  • In reply to chris:

    Probably not, since he said Red Line, which is in the subway.

  • In reply to chris:

    Someone in chicagobus.org noted that one of the articles on this subject also indicated that Kelly wanted the trains taken out of service until they were fixed. If this is the proper interpretation of his remarks, it seems like not only is he angling for conductor jobs, but also a service disruption without calling a strike. Admittedly, the NABIs were pulled from the street, but that involved a serious structural failure, and there were other buses in the system to fill the gap. Pulling all the rail cars (or even the 2600s) would probably shut down the L system.

  • In reply to chris:

    glg, you are not confused, local media and bloggers are the ones who are repeatedly confused. CTA probably still has some union employees who do either clerical or non-critical operating functions that could take a furlough, but it is probably a small fraction. To get any significant dollars in concessions will require talking about what MK referred to: this year's 3% raise and next year's 3.5% raise. Maybe some work rules are on the table (I've heard rail operators get a healthy amount of break time and other kinds of inflexibilities in their contract--if anyone knows any of those details, please post them, because none of the local media cares to dig into these things).

    I'd be surprised if more complicated things like pension or health care are on the table, or even more exotic things like two-tier pay systems or even service contracting. Those things would probably require re-visting various State laws, and the Dems probably want to avoid that. And Quinn thinks he's already done his part with that silly $15 million a year for the next two years he's giving CTA (with 2012 and later having to divert sales tax to pay off the interest on the remaining loans---did our local media explain it that way? That's what Quinn's plan did.)

    Mr. Kelly thinks he can bring back conductors is ridiculous, too. He should be focusing on saving the current jobs his members have, and not adding new ones. He already has a PR problem with those Customer Agents he has in rail stations, whose credibility with the public is already low, since they seem to do nothing but sit around.

  • In reply to JMan01:

    "and later having to divert sales tax to pay off the interest on the remaining loans---did our local media explain it that way?"

    No. Also, no indication how the $166 million principal on the bonds would be paid.

    Assuming, for the sake of argument that the bonds are secured by future sales tax revenue, that sure puts a crimp in the moderator's theory that all will be well once we get out of the recession. The RTA would have to pay the bond amortization, paratransit, and the other "off the tops" before one cent goes to the service boards, let alone hoping for restoring service.

  • In reply to JMan01:

    Maybe if the CTA could bust the union they could use the cost-savings to fix the doors and automate (no operator) the red line or blue lines (since they share track with no other lines this could be done easily and safely)? Just saying... the argument goes both ways.

  • Since I mentioned that they haven't figured out a way to run a bus with less than one operator, you are right. I think that in that context, it was more an idea to avoid layoffs. However, if what certain hardhead drivers who post on other internet forums mean what they say, they have no regard for the about 1000 of them that would get laid off. They think Blago has more money to give them, and this is only a way to bust the union (I'm just reporting what they say, and don't put any personal credence in it). If that's what the union rank and file believe, Jefferson and Kelly have their support, and damn the consequences.

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