CTA year in review - Q4: 2012 budget with no fare increase; CTA enters social media world

Here's the final installment in our look at CTA news in 2011, finishing with the last three months of this year.

October: The CTA begins installation of Bus Tracker arrival info signs at bus shelters. The CTA appeared to be setting the stage - and the tone - for upcoming union negotiations in its announcement of 200 jobs cut and reduction of some some vacation and sick pay benefits. More cash was dedicated to a new elevator and rehab at the Wilson Red Line station. Mayor Emanuel released his plan to charge a "congestion" tax on downtown parking that would fund CTA improvements. We learned that the new 5000 Series rail cars would start revenue service on the Pink Line. President Forrest Claypool release a surprise budget with no fare hike or service cuts - if the union cooperates with $80 million in givebacks. We had a good lesson on how an iPhone theft victim got the thugs arrested. We ended October with a fun photo caption contest - Rahm zombie!

November: The CTA entered the social media world with a bang on Nov. 1. Gov. Quinn came up with about $650 million for rehab of the Red Line Dan Ryan branch and two station overhauls. Talk about wilding. A teen-ager punched out a homeless guy on CTA Red Line platform while a friend helpfully filmed the action. The video went viral. The CTA board OKed a construction agreement on the agency's first bus rapid transit (BRT) project. It will begin in spring of 2012 along Jeffery Boulevard between 67th and 103rd streets. The board also approved an agreement to implement a new fare-collection systems featuring the use of contactless cards riders can tap against rail turnstiles and bus fareboxes. The CTA touted the early completion of its effort to install surveillance cameras at all 144 rail stations.

December: A shooting near the Wilson Red Line station shut down service for about five hours during the height of the evening rush in early December. About a dozen CTA Tattler fans joined us for a very crowded but festive ride on the CTA's Holiday Train. The CTa got a federal grant to repair slow zones on 3.6 miles of Blue Line track between Damen and Belmont. A flaw in the quality of a casting used to create wheel bearing housings forced the CTA to pull  the new Series 5000 rail cars from service on the Pink Line.

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  • On the budget, I already have my predictions on the table (i.e. elsewhere on comments here) about what probably will happen about July. Unlike Irene Hughes, who used to go on TV every year about this time with her psychic predictions, but no one ever followed up on them, it'll be possible to follow up on that one.

    "Gov. Quinn came up with about $650 million" QUINN DIDN'T COME UP WITH ANY MONEY. As often explained here, and in more depth on chicagobus.org, THE TAXPAYERS HAD BEEN PAYING THAT MONEY FOR TWO YEARS, until Wirtz lost his suit challenging the taxes in the 2009 capital bill. Same goes for Durbin. In fact, I documented there how when Durbin announces a grant, but the money doesn't appear, the link to the Press Release goes dead.

    On the money issue, I sure haven't seen a headline in any of the 4 retrospectives saying:

    "Quinn announced that the state has paid its obligations to the RTA, including on its promise to service $166 million in bonds, the proceeds of which were given to the CTA for a fare freeze" and, like Free Rides for Seniors, to buy votes.

    Kevin, it isn't the politicians' money. And, as I have frequently said, I'll also predict (although it will take longer than July to have verification of that) that it will line mostly consultants', but also certain contractors' pockets, while nothing stays fixed for long. It never does on the CTA.

  • In reply to jack:

    Since Chicago Now seems to have a limit of one link per post, here is the link to the discussion of the liquor tax, which, itself has links to the primary source documents.

    BTW, the October review also misses another well documented gaffe on Claypool's part. We all know which one. Was he ignorant or lying? Neither is good.

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