Tidbits from CTA's budget: falling work force, fuel costs

I gleaned these budget facts from the presentation CTA President Rich Rodriguez made to the board last week.

  • Budgeted positions keep dropping. In 2008, there were almost 11,000 positions budgeted. In 2011 that number will drop to about 9,400 - a 14% reduction. Of course, the 2010 service cuts account for the bulk of that drop. I'm hoping the CTA wishes it still had the 1,100 positions - mostly operators - that were cut due to budget constraints.
  • Fuel costs have dropped substantially. The fuel bill was just over $100 million in 2009,but is budgeted to be about $55 million in 2011. The CTA says strategic hedging is projected to save almost $8 million in 2010. And again, the big drop is due to the service cuts.
  • The sour economy continues to affect public funding of the CTA. Public funding amounted to about $621 million in 2008, and is projected to be $529 million in 2011. That's $92 million less than 2008.
  • Free rides continue to grow, The CTA figure to grant about 50 million freebies in 2010 and 51 million in 2011. That's a lot of lost revenue. 
  • The CTA expects a modest 2.9% increase in ridership in 2011 over 2010. Most of the growth (3.4%) will come in rail boardings. Bus boardings are expected to increase about 1%.

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  • We know why fuel costs went down by half from 2009--a fact that others commenting here and obviously the CTA want to ignore--that the CTA was paying $4.69 a gallon for fuel as a result of being on the wrong side of a hedge, when the going price was about $2.00. I still remember that, and one can go back to the financial reports in 2009 to verify that. The big drop was not "due to the service cuts," which on the bus side were 20%, not 45%. Now with oil prices rising, let's hope they are on the right side of the hedge. However, let's not let them sugar coat the facts.

    The other thing, which was noted in the budget, was that the "public funding" (i.e. taxes) essentially only pays for the pension obligation. The fare box pays for everything else. They thought they had the pension problem solved in 2008, but all they did was assure that while they could skip on contributing to the plan, they can't skip payments on the bonds.

    Finally, as far as what "CTA wishes," the only thing it should wish is for a balanced budget without gimmicks.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well, that and more capital dollars...

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