News pickup: End to free rides for all; IG gets authority over all transit boards, employees

Some transit news items for this week.

End to free rides for all seniors.
Gov. Pat Quinn finally signed into law a bill that would end free transit rides for all senior citizens. Only those seniors who qualify for the state's Circuit Breaker aid program now will get free rides. Those income limits are:

  • $27,610 for a household of one.
  • $36,635 for a household of two.
  • $45,657 for a household of three.

This bill passed both chambers in early January, but Quinn only just signed it on Monday. Estimates range

Inspector General wins wide jurisdiction over transit.
Quinn signed another transit-related law this week, giving the Executive Inspector General "jurisdiction over all board members, employees, vendors, and others doing business with the Regional Transit Boards to investigate allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, misconduct, nonfeasance, misfeasance, malfeasance, or violations of this Act."

It should be interesting to see how the IG wields this power, it at all, at the CTA.

Last call for comments on Red-Purple modernization plans. Friday is the last day to submit your comments on the Red-Purple Line Modernization Project. Read me recaps of the plans. The CTA asks you to e-mail your comments.

Comments

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  • Re: the IG. Would be great to see somebody go in, bash some heads, and get some cooperation among the agencies. The situation now is disgraceful, especially between CTA and Metra.

  • "Estimates range"? Probably doesn't really matter.

    With regard to the IG bill (link to the Public Act), Pace made it clear that the issue was that after the Pagano mess, the original bill was only for the Illinois Executive IG to have jurisdiction over Metra and Pace, but Pace said all transit boards should be treated the same. The sponsor's press release is here.

    Under this bill, the preexisting CTA Inspector General's appointment has to be approved by the State Executive Ethics Commission (undoubtedly an oxymoron), the state EIG has the power to investigate violations of the IG Act at the four transit boards, and any IG appointed by a transit board has to file a monthly report with the state EIG.

    Note: Another thing added in this bill, but not reported, is that the governor can remove any member of the 4 transit boards after an opportunity to be heard, if the director is named in a monthly report.

    AB:
    As pretty clear from the CTA OIG pamphlet, the current CTA OIG's jurisdiction is basically limited to bribery, embezzlement, theft, and contract irregularities, and the new legislation did not change that.

    It would take massive legislative change to get service cooperation. I don't know if you were around for the Illinois Auditor General's report on the RTA system preceding the 2008 bill, where the Auditor General did discuss service coordination, but the legislature essentially made hash of the recommendations. You are right, though, that the situation is disgraceful.

  • In reply to jack:

    I see that the link to the statute didn't work. It is PA 96-1528.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, I fixed the link.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Thanks. I also wondered why it was saved for approval, but I guess it was because it had too many links.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yeah, I think it's all the links.

  • In reply to jack:

    Maybe some company that markets mostly to seniors could donate money to keep the current free rides program.It would be great advertising.

  • In reply to jack:

    Recycle that idea and get corporate sponsorship to complete the blue cart program.

  • In reply to jack:

    The joint Title VI Capital Funds Distribution Complaint filed through the FTA, RTA, and IDOT remains open; and it will be submitted to the IG to see if their investigations and analysis can be coordinated with the other Agencies.

  • In reply to mikep621:

    Maybe you should read my first post on what the IG's jurisdiction is. What I said to AB applies to you.

  • In reply to mikep621:

    You may be 250% right jack; but that has never stopped me from tilting at windmills Quixote-style before has it??

  • In reply to mikep621:

    At least now you know that you are wasting your time.

  • In reply to jack:

    I don't think I'm wasting my time; the people of the Southeast side did after all lobby to get the funding
    for the in progress South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study (which includes the Gray Line and Gold Line Proposals): http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/12456386/348792632/name/PT_South+Lakefront_FEB4+PAC_FINAL.pdf

    And I have been informed by the FTA that it may be possible to prove planning incompetence (and the validity of the Complaint) by using such examples as the $250 to 300 Million the City of Chicago's Planning Agencies (CDOT, CTA) W A S T E D on the NOW USELESS Block 37 Airport Express SuperStation.

  • In reply to mikep621:

    I was referring to going to the EIG with regard to the Gray Line.

    Planning incompetence does not equal racial discrimination. We know that there is planning incompetence. The only result would be that any wasted federal funds would have to be returned, and presumably reallocated to California. Huberman also said that CTA was negotiating with FTA over the $51 million of federal money wasted on NABI buses. Don't expect that to be reinvested in the Gray Line, either.

    I take it back, maybe you are wasting your time, generally.

  • In reply to jack:

    Planning incompetence DOES equal Racial Discrimination when the people tasked with developing Transit Projects for Minority Communities are motivated by providing multi-million dollar contracts to "connected" consultants, and "connected" construction companies; rather then utilizing the HUGE amounts of Capital Monies sought in the best interests of those Communities.

    Examples:

    For providing "access to" and "creating" jobs, they miss a B I G opportunity by not including an Interchange Station where the Red Line extension would cross the MED mainline; a station there even with present just rail operations would provide access to South Shore trains, and jobs in Indiana; Metra University Park, Kensington, and Blue Island trains, and eventually thew new Metra SES trains (and connections between all those trains - rather than just feeding the Red Line to the North).

    And a Kensington Transit Center (like Jefferson Park) could create hundreds of PERMANENT Walk-to-in-the-Neighborhood JOBS On-Site, and have possible connections to Amtrak and HSR; AGAIN - a missed opportunity for the Roseland Community of HUNDREDS of jobs (this by the same people who spent $250+ on Block 37 - which could have paid for the Gray Line): http://community-2.webtv.net/GLRTS/KensingtonTransit/

    While there are NO jobs along the Red Line itself until you get downtown, there are MANY Job Centers along the MED Lines: http://community-2.webtv.net/@HH!B6!73!338F5F75AD93/GLRT2/EmploymentCenters/

    And the IG is like other Agencies, if you contact them multiple times (like I did CMAP, RTA, and CDOT), you will eventually get results: http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/12456386/348792632/name/PT_South+Lakefront_FEB4+PAC_FINAL.pdf

  • In reply to mikep621:

    Even though you convinced yourself, these scattershot attempts sure don't convince me or certainly not the people who can actually make it happen.

    Posting something from consultants you like is no different that CTA posting something from consultants you don't. Neither is implementation.

    Let us know when you can post a link to a press release saying that the Gray Line project is actually getting off the ground (i.e. EIS completed and contracts awarded). I don't mean Braun posting that she is in favor of everything.

  • In reply to jack:

    You'll be the second to know jack!

  • In reply to jack:

    I notice you did not comment on or contradict any of the points I made about potential benefits (or lack of) for the involved Communities; I don't think it's about that with you - it's just argument for arguments sake.

  • In reply to mikep621:

    Just like the lack of implementation and continued reliance or racism shows that this is publicity for publicity's sake.

    I don't believe that the Broadway subway is going to be built either, even if their consultants say it has benefits.

  • Quinn's 2011 budget proposal cuts the Circuit Breaker program. Wouldn't that mean no free rides (if it passed)?

    I'm glad to see the Inspector General have more authority of the transit agencies. I assume this all came about due to Pagano.

  • In reply to chris:

    PA 96-1527 says refers to "senior citizens aged 65 and older who meet the income eligibility limitation set forth in... the Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Property Tax
    Relief and Pharmaceutical Assistance Act."

    So, it depends on what Quinn is proposing. If he is proposing reducing the amount of the circuit breaker grant in that Act, no. If he is proposing altering the income limits, yes.

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