No CTA service cuts in 2011; capital $$ moved to operating

The proposed 2011 Chicago Transit Authority budget
projects no fare increases or service cuts. That's good. But the
troubling news is yet another transfer of eligible capital funds to help
balance the operating budget.

crowded bus.jpg

(Chicago Tribune photo by Alex Garcia)

No fare hike is really no news. The CTA promised the state there would
be no increase this year or next
in return for bucks from a state bond
issue. In 2011 the CTA expects to get $83 million in bond proceeds.

Admittedly, I'm a little - and pleasantly - surprised there will be no
more service cuts next year. I'm sure you all painfully recall the $130
million in service cuts
made this past February. The CTA says
"management efficiencies" are expected to save about $54 million in
2011.

But the troublesome and frankly worrisome part of this budget is the
transfer of $113 million in eligible capital dollars to help paint next
year's budget with black ink. This transfer has become an annual ritual,
which means delayed infrastructure maintenance, among other missed
opportunities. I'm still trying to get a handle on just what those
missed opportunities are. Stay tuned on that.

In good news on the capital spending front, the CTA plans to move ahead
with its $674 million order of new rail cars. It also plans to overhaul
buses, fix up some bus garages and rail stations, upgrade substations
and repair and replace track to prevent slow zones.

And remember folks, the CTA can's can't use these dollars for operating expenses.

You can comment on the budget during a public hearing and three community meetings.

Comments

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  • "But the troublesome and frankly worrisome part of this budget is the transfer of $113 million in eligible capital dollars to help paint next year's budget with black ink."

    "And remember folks, the CTA can's [sic] use these dollars for operating expenses."

    Assuming you meant "can't," that's internally contradictory.

    Also, with regard to the "no fare hikes," remember that Schlickman said on his way out that that deal was off if the state did not make up defaults in state aid, and Rodriguez's budget assumed that it would. So, unless your man Quinn comes through with the money for transit (and the developmentally disabled and mentally ill, but that's a different subject), I wouldn't be counting my chickens yet; especially not before Nov. 2. After all, these are The President's Budget Recommendations, not cast in stone.

  • In reply to jack:

    To reinforce what I just said, read the last paragraph of the Sun-Times article. But, as I noted above, assurances from Quinn don't mean much when the state is running a $12 Billion deficit.

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