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.
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
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.