CTA, RTA team up to lobby feds for funds, while state cuts loom

With the CTA about to potentially feel a big budget hit in state funding, the transit agency and its parent Regional Transportation Authority teamed with Illinois reps and senators to call on Congress to provide consistent long-term funding for transit.

From the release:

[The April 9 news conference] focused on Move Ahead for Progress in the 21stCentury Act (MAP- 21), which expires on May 31, and the Highway Trust Fund, which will start teetering on insolvency this summer.  The region’s transit system, like others around the country, relies on important federal funds to keep its transportation system in working order.

Without ... federal assistance, the region may not be able to make the capital investments required to meet its growing transit needs. The RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace have taken action to address this capital shortfall on their own, issuing bonds, pursuing other financing tools, implementing fare increases and instituting operational efficiencies. While these actions have offered some support, the magnitude of this challenge makes it impossible for these actions alone to sufficiently address the problem.

The RTA has determined that the region’s capital needs as of 2013 were $33.4 billion. That number can be divided into two categories:

  1. First is the region’s State of Good Repair (SGR) backlog—or what it would take to “catch up” and fund the unmet needs that have accumulated over time—which is $20 billion. This $20 billion SGR backlog is made up of deferred investments in asset rehabilitation, replacement and annual capital maintenance.
  2. The second category, the transit region’s ten-year capital needs (made up of normal replacement, rehabilitation and capital maintenance) totals $13.4 billion.

Also looming in the near future for the CTA is a possible cut in state funding of $130 million, or 45 percent of what the state currently funds.

Both the state and feds need to realize the importance of investing in public transportation and provide the needed funds to both operate currently, and to invest in future expansion.

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  • Of course the mendicants can team up while begging, while squabbling most of the rest of the time. As derived from Durbin can tweet @tags, but can't do anything effective.

    As far as what anyone should realize is that the dysfunctional governing mess in this region needs to be cleaned up before any funding, meaning of course tax increase, is contemplated.

    Maybe more interesting was speculation in the Sun-Times that with Emanuel's chief of staff leaving, Claypool might get the job. My reaction before that was that if Emanuel really wants to prove that "he gets it" about not listening, he should get rid of Claypool and Terry Peterson.

  • In reply to jack:

    Link for the Sun-Times story.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, what does "get rid of" mean? Not hire him as chief of staff or fire him as CTA prez?

    Personally, I believe he has been the most effective CTA president in years, and I doubt you can dispute that.

    More on that later.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I thought I have made it clear over the years that Claypool does not have the statutory qualifications to run the CTA and that Peterson's, Claypool's and their spokesmodels' (especially Tammy Chase's) attitude is that "we tell you what it is, we don't listen to you." Such as when Peterson lied about listening at the hearings for cutting the Lincoln route.

    I really don't care about for what Claypool takes personal credit, other than his discipline crackdown. Just like Emanuel didn't personally rebuild the Red Line South, even though he claimed he did. Claypool wasn't even the one who thought up the bogus statistic about CTA providing 81% of the rides but getting only 55% of the subsidy, but he sure embraced it.

    So, "get rid of" means out of the CTA. I didn't care that Daley got Kruesi another patronage job when he got him out of the CTA, and Emanuel can do the same with Claypool.

    I also see that 2 unqualified Quinn appointees are off the CT Board. Emanuel can get rid of his appointees who also don't meet statutory qualifications. If you need to be refreshed on what those qualifications are, read 70 ILCS 3605 sections 19 and 27.

    Claypool pays Steele and Chase to write about his and the mayor's achievements at the CTA. And if you are comparing him to being more qualified than Kruesi, or Huberman (who lied about the reason he needed 150 articulated buses), that's not much of a standard. At least Rodriguez carried out Daley's orders.

    Maybe someone should ask the mayor why he said that the Fitzgerald Task Force recommendations were dead on arrival, and then you can write about that. As I implied, maybe the Illinois General Assembly should enact them first before talking about another tax increase.

  • In reply to jack:

    Ok then, sounds like you agree Claypool is the best president we've had in a long while.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Also Edwin Jackson is the best Cubs pitcher they had for a while, but the theory there was that they wanted to tank.

    You are taking it on the chin on chicagobus.org. But if you want to do Tammy Chase's job and not get paid for it, that's your business.

  • In reply to jack:

    Section 19's requirement about "recognized business ability" has been ignored from Day 1 & probably isn't even constitutional.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Oh pleaae you guys. Give it up on the qualifications thing. Try another argument.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    There is a reason why qualifications were prescribed. However, you are quite satisfied with how things are being mismanaged.

    Heck, if Claypool is so indispensable, how is it that the company he supposedly founded can apparently get along without him, and besides having gotten rid of his corporate speak on its website, now has a service and doesn't acknowledge his existence.

    If you want to get into the comparison game, Claypool looked good only because he was compared to Todd Stroger. Similarly, you take pride that Claypool is only slightly less incompetent than Kruesi. The same political thinking brought us both.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    1. With respect to the CT Board only fell apart in the latter years of the Daley II administration. Whoever, though, took it to new heights by appointing Reverend Charles E. Robinson to the board, whose reaction, when told he voted to cut service on 11 said "he had to pray," and of course, Quinn appointing Jacky Grimshaw to the Board, who didn't show up at the meeting and then cried when asked about it.

    2. I don't see how it isn't constitutional. The Board is supposed to oversee a business, and Rauner appointed 2 businesspeople, one to replace the aforementioned incompetent Quinn appointee. You going to challenge that? Maybe Kevin will bring suit (if he has legal standing).

  • In reply to jack:

    You're forgetting that Ogilvie put that noted business & transit expert, Ernie Banks on the board.
    He only quit after the newspapers started reporting that he never even bothered to show up at the monthly CTA board meetings, but still collected his 15 Grand annual pay.

    As for constitutional, it's too vague. It's one thing to specify a post must be held by a lawyer, MD or CPA, but "recognized business ability" is a standard without meaningful definition. Appellate courts are constantly throwing out laws that are vague.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    On the vagueness point, only in the First Amendment and criminal law contexts.

    At least Banks showed enough business ability to run a car dealership (or be the face of one, and even if undue influence was exerted on him in his last days, to be determined by a probate judge). Grimshaw had no business experience, didn't show up at meetings, either, and could only cry.

    Rauner may have appointed Rosales and Youngblood for "diversity reasons," but their resumes show that they have business experience.

    The question is whether those 2 board members will do what board members are supposed to do, or be like their replacements, who apparently don't even insist on a President's Report, which the last 3 Presidents did provide, but Claypool does not. Heck, a financial report has not been posted since Dec. 2014. Anyone call that management oversight?

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Of course you like that asshole Cesspool.

  • It should come as no surprise that Congress has a lower approval rating than 1) cable companies, 2) oil companies, 3) airlines, 4) loan sharks, 5) meth dealers, and 6) proctologists.

    The fuel tax should have been indexed to inflation at a minimum. The gutless turds don't have the cajones to raise the tax, even when their folks back home, D's and R's, rely on public transportation. This is *not* a partisan issue, or should be. Both sides of the aisle are planning a stupid game of chicken, but we're the ones tied to the tracks.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Do you have a source? :-) At least according to Katie Couric, proctologists serve a useful function. Also, the term has been changed to "colorectal surgeon," apparently to boost their image.

    I agree with your point that there doesn't seem to be any explanation why they can't come up with some sort of transportation authorization bill. Not figuring out how to tax Teslas and Leafs can't be the main excuse.

  • In reply to jack:

    It's simple. They're gutless turds. Nobody likes to raise taxes, and each side is waiting for the other side to blink, so they can use it as election fodder.

    Imagine what happens when CTA and RTA service gets cut, and thousands of additional cars hit the already overcrowded roads, as people attempt to drive to their jobs. It'll be a nightmare. I would expect parking rates to double at a minimum, assuming one could even find a parking space.

    I'm a "small L" libertarian, but I have no problems paying a tax to provide roads and public transportation. Heck, if it were up to me, I'd raise the gas tax to at least $1.00 a gallon, and use the funds to fix the pothole laden roads, and improve the transportation infrastructure.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    If you are talking feds, all they provided was capital funds, except for stuff like CMAQ, which is marginal, and for which CTA can't come up with the matching funds.

    About the only difference with respect to CTA is that they might be able to do things like the Wilson station and 95th bus terminal without borrowing. I still don't think that stuff like the Ashland BRT and Clark Flyover would get through the environmental process, even if the Highway Trust Fund were flush with money.

  • In reply to jack:

    Congress is just the start. The state, county, and city politicos are not blameless. Between the lot of them, they should figure out a funding mechanism for the roads and public transportation that provide a sufficient stream of cash for operations and capital expenses, and include a means for adjusting for inflation. Things have gone to sh*t, and they stand around pointing fingers at each other. They love to stand in front of the cameras and pat themselves on the back for fixing things that should never have been allowed to degrade in the first place. They need a collective smack in the head.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    The state's problem is that its approach to capital is to enact a 5 year plan every 10 years for 30 year bonds for stuff (like CTA NABI and Optima buses) that lasts 6 years. Then the state needs stuff like in PA 96-34 involving permanent tax and fee increases to cover the 5 year capital program. Also, the belief that video poker is the answer to this problem and a casino is the answer to Chicago's problems, even though it appears that has hit the point of diminishing returns.

    On the city side, it depends on whether you believe that TIF money is going into infrastructure or corporate paybacks. CTA having urinated away $300 million on Block 37 didn't help its cause, either.

    Then there are things like the farce RTA telling the service boards to issue their own bonds, but Metra imposed a fare increase to do so, and then said it wouldn't do much to cut into the capital deficit.

  • In reply to jack:

    Gas tax. Raise it. A lot. Allocate it roads and public transportation. If we want pothole-free roads, and trains/buses that aren't packed like sardine cans, then we have to pony up.

    Frankly, it really is that simple. Quit f*cking around with the accounting gimics. Stand in front of the TV cameras and tell the public you are raising the gas tax by $0.50 a gallon, and that *every* penny will go to improving the roads and public transportation system. Having a quality transportation system benefits everyone.

    Gas prices have dropped by over a dollar in the region from their record highs. It's now or never.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Pricewise it may be now or never. However, while I mentioned that it couldn't all be the Tesla and Leaf problem, how to get them to pay is part of the problem, more so now that heavy trucks are going to CNG and propane, and limited degrees of hybridization. A propane truck still does an equally good job of tearing up the highways.

    Which gets us to your "pothole-free" comment. A whole lot of ARRA money went into asphalt. That asphalt is already crumbling. As I implied with respect to CTA capital not lasting, some sort of standards need to be imposed to make sure the "improvements" last. Otherwise, it is just more money in the pockets of the road construction lobby. Somewhat surprisingly, while it was at the forefront of other campaigns for state capital plans, I haven't heard fro them lately. Maybe they know they have been exposed.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    That's a very good point, Jack. The money has to be spent wisely, and not just thrown at their cronie buddies. People will grumble if the gas tax is raised, but I believe they'll accept it if it's spent on quality improvements.

    Part of the problem has been the general underfunding over the years. Instead of spending what was necessary, they tried doing things on the cheap, and we see what we got. Over the long haul it's cheaper to do it right, than do it over. However, we always seem to be trying to save a buck. The Red Line roadbed was a good example.

    Yes, at some point we have to determine an alternate way of assessing the "gas" tax. Perhaps a tax on vehicle weight, as damage to the roadway is directly tied to the weight of the vehicle.

  • In reply to jack:

    Actually, they're called gastroenterologists now.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Seems so, although the GIs don't seem restricted to the lower portion of the Alimentary Canal (the region around Buffalo, N.Y.).

  • Undoubtedly related to the direction this discussion has gone is the Feder piece on how Emanuel plays the media.

    Does anyone think Claypool isn't a part of this? Especially after his July 2011 walkout?

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