No fare increase, more rush hour trains - CTA 2015 budget

The CTA today released a proposed budget for 2015 that holds the line on fares and adds trains at rush hour on four of the agency's eight rail lines.

Under the $1.44 billion budget, the CTA is expecting rail ridership to grow by more than 2 million rides over this year. And it will add additional rush hour trains on the Red, Blue, Brown and Orange lines.

In the news release CTA President notes: "After inheriting a $308 million deficit in 2011, we have presented four straight years of balanced budgets." I do give him credit for his budgetary stewardship. The release also notes that capital investments will continue into 2015:

  • Work is under way on a new 95th Street Terminal, a $240 million project that will expand and upgrade the 95th/Dan Ryan station.
  • Work has also begun on the reconstruction of the Wilson Red Line station into a modern Red-Purple transfer station,.
  • Construction continues on the new Cermak/McCormick Place station on the Green Line.
  • In 2015, the CTA will continue its $71.2 million Ravenswood Connector project to significantly upgrade track and related rail structure between the Chicago and Armitage stations on the elevated Brown and Purple Express lines.

A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 17, at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake Street, second floor conference room;

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Comments

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  • 1. The balanced budget one is puffery, since the RTA is not allowed to approve an unbalanced budget. Maybe he means balanced without tricks like the 20% service cut, or the Crowd Reduction Plan (but wasn't Forrest taking credit or the latter?).

    On points previously raised:

    2. On the bus bunching one, the budget claims that CAD software is the next thing to be thrown at the bus bunching problem (page 16). I guess BusTracker was not the solution, nor was WTTW's claim that it was solved credible.

    3. Nope, there wasn't going to be a fare hike for capital. Since the budget claims numerous times that CTA is under the sole leadership of Rahm Emanuel, that wasn't going to happen. Starting at page 91, the budget discusses the $21 billion unfunded need (the discussion apparently mandated by the RTA), but doesn't really tackle it. For instance, if 52% of elevated structures have exceeded their useful lives of 90 years, why is CTA hanging new stuff on them (such as the Cermak and Quincy stations and cosmetic enhancements to the Damen and California stations)? Obviously, this is $4 billion worth that won't be addressed. Similarly, nobody suggests replacing Archer barn and 61st shops (page 93). I'm surprised they didn't mention that Wilson Shops burned down (about 18 years ago).

  • Why on earth are they wasting millions on the Cermak Green Line station? For the love of god, the Red Line station is 2 blocks away! Any conventioneer heading to McCormick Place from downtown can just as easily catch the Red Line as the Green Line.

    The funds should have been used to build a Green Line station in North Bronzeville at 26th St or 28th St. This area is underserved by the El, as it's 3 miles from the Roosevelt to 35th St station.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    The Green Line station was mostly paid for by TIF money, not CTA. Also, conventioneers don't seem to take public transit very much while in Chicago. Are they still forcing the large conventions to mass purchase the CTA passes while they are here?

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Besides that, the TIF (and station paid out of it) is for the Chess Records, Motor Row redevelopment around Cermak and Michigan, not directly McCormick Place, although McCormick Place keeps growing to the west.

  • In reply to jack:

    TIF or not, it seems like a colossal waste of money to build what is basically a redundant station, given that the Red Line station is 2 blocks away.

    As we've discussed in the past, the Green Line should have been shut down years ago, as it basically parallels the Red Line. Either that, or it should have been rerouted over to the Metra Electric line to provide service to the lakefront.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Technically, the green line was there first, so why don't they just shut down the whole red line if it's redundant?

  • In reply to chris:

    When the Red Line was built, the original plan called for the shutdown of the Green line. I don't recall why they decided to keep it running. 'Probably because of kvetching by the local communities. If they're going to keep it open, they should at least try to provide service to areas that are underserved by the Red Line, which would include the northern portion of Bronzeville.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    No, when the Dan Ryan Line was built, the original plan was to move the South Side Main Line to the IC tracks & run it to Kensington [115th St].
    The most IC stations were to be closed except for the important ones in Hyde Park [for Univ. of Chicago & Museum of Science & Industry], by Michael Reese Hospital & McCormick Place.
    But that somehow disappeared & when it came time that the SSML was falling apart, that crook, Richie Daley let the South Side ministers take control & it was rebuilt in place.
    Had they used the original plan, there wouldn't be a need or demand for the appallingly expensive extension to 130th St.

  • In reply to chris:

    Maybe you are being sarcastic, but the Green Line South (main, Ashland and 63) has 12,000 average weekday boardings, while the Red Line (Dan Ryan) has 49,000, and 95th almost beats the entire Green Line (July Ridership Report).

    However, the way Brian Steele keeps throwing cold water onto 11, maybe he'll buy your logic, but I think that after running a mayoral campaign on spending $600 million to fix the Red Line, I don't think it is happening.

    There was a theory in the early 90s to rebuild only the Green Line stations that did not parallel Red Line stations (i.e., on the main, Indiana, 43, and 51), but obviously that didn't happen. That was also the time when Rapid Transit was supposed to be rapid, long gone.

  • In reply to jack:

    I was being sarcastic to prove a point. Green Line was there first (by about 77 years), so why did they build a red line station only 2 blocks to the west at 35th! By his argument, it was "a colossal waste of money to build what is basically a redundant station".

    Just saying.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I lived in the area when they were discussing it. It really is silly. Having one at 18th and then another at 26th, though a bit more complicated, makes a lot more sense. They seem to have grand visions or making Motor Row some major attraction, Maybe it could be but I think that could be achieved with a Cermak shuttle between the Red Line, Motor Row, and McCormick, instead of a station that doesn't really add service.

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    I used to live in the area for a while and walking from the Red Line to Michigan Ave can be a pretty tenuous hike, especially in bad weather.

    Considering McCormick Place is a big money-maker for the city, it makes sense that there should be an El stop right there. Nobody in a suit or high heels wants to walk from Chinatown.

  • In reply to Peter Kozak:

    It's 2 blocks for goodness' sakes! C'mon. Spending millions of dollars to shave 2 blocks off the walk? The bus is also an option.

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    In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Nearly 8 blocks...

  • In reply to Peter Kozak:

    Wrong. McCormick Place is about 400 East [King Dr.] & the station will be about 50 East, so it's three & a half blocks.
    A Chicago block is 100 street numbers, not the number of streets crossed, which still isn't eight streets at that location.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    But then you have to add that Wentworth (Chinatown station) is another 200 west.

    Not to mention that Geoff Baer contends that a square mile is 8 by 16 city blocks, and that CTA seems to count 16 to the mile in its bus stop statistics and the like.

  • In reply to jack:

    Geoff Baer is all mixed up on what a city block is.
    There are very few square miles in Chicago laid out that way east of Pulaski, where the K streets start.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Downtown of course predates any of that (as with regard to the show on why there are 10 numbers between Roosevelt and Cermak and 9 between Cermak and 31st), but elsewhere, it pretty much holds up, as this came up with regard to Place when the blocks are oriented E-W, and Court N-S (within the city, though, N-S streets at XX34 usually just have names).

    I'm sure you, like Geoff, can contact Dennis McClendon, who apparently is the font of all information that that regard.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    WRONG! The K streets start west of Pulaski.

  • In reply to chris:

    Just a slight brain freeze.

  • In reply to Peter Kozak:

    I was referring to the distance between the existing Red Line station at Wentworth/Cermak, and the new Green Line Station at State/Cermak, not the distance to McCormick Place. The distance between the 2 stations can be measured in feet.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I don't think anyone actually going to McCormick Place thinks that way. For instance, I decided to take the 3 bus rather than the Red Line after an instance when the 22 bus wouldn't stop at the station. So, I guess you and Scooter have to add your numbers, plus the half block between State and the alley.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well, sure, if offered a choice of taking the Green Line or the Red Line, I'm going to now pick the Green Line, as it's a whole 1800 feet closer to McCormick Place. Of course, spending $50 million to shave 2 minutes off a walk is money well spent.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I suppose you should have protested in 2011. As I noted, it isn't out of the CTA budget, anyway.

    What you should have protested was about $300 million of CTA money going into Block 37 about 2006.

    However, both seem moot.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    21 bus.

  • I'm guessing we can expect fare hikes next year when it's not an election year. They clearly need the money to improve service/infrastructure.

  • In reply to chris:

    After reading this budget, I wouldn't count on it. There certainly was not the emphasis on meeting unfunded needs to get to a state of good repair that there was in the Metra and Pace budgets. Also, unlike the other 2 agencies, CTA didn't mention the overall $30 billion need, because Metra and Pace don't exist.

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    Good conversation here. But the fact is it is unpleasant to walk to McCormick Place from Cermak/Chinatown, especially at night. The area is safe, but feels too deserted. The new Green Line stop will have entrances on Cermak and also 23rd St. Those two blocks are long and not having to cover them will make a difference. Plus it serves Motor Row and also parts of the South Loop. It's worth it esp. if the densification around McCormick Place and revitalization of Motor Row happen.

  • I of course am going to keep up my incessant bleating about implementing new CTA "L" service along the South Lakefront to
    serve the Museum Campus and the McCormick Place/DePaul
    Arena area: http://www.civicartworks.com/projects/museum-campus-transportation-study?order=popular&phase=1

  • Please register, and support the Idea!

  • About as likely as the Republican candidate for attorney general beating Lisa on Tuesday.

  • In reply to jack:

    You are most certainly entitled to your opinion jack......

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