With last-minute cash from Quinn, CTA budget meeting won't be all doom and gloom

The CTA board is set to approve the 2010 budget at a 10 am meeting today, and thanks to sleight of hand by Gov. Quinn, the meeting and budget won’t be as big a downer as once thought. No big fare hikes, but still service cuts remain for now, and with those cuts come 1,100 layoffs. (See continuation for details on service cuts.)

The deal calls for the RTA to borrow $166 million over the next two years for CTA operating funds. The state would pay the interest of almost $16 million in 2010 and 2011. After that, the RTA is on the hook for the interest.

Gov. Quinn calls this a “comprehensive plan,” but I would call it a “I’m running for governor and didn’t raise fares” plan.

Meanwhile, the CTA is still looking to reduce service cuts as well. From the press release:

In addition to freezing CTA and paratransit fare increases for the next
two years, the State is also in conversations with CTA aimed at
decreasing the number of anticipated service reductions, ensuring that
riders will continue to have reliable public transportation options.

Protest scheduled before meeting. Answer Chicago is still planning a protest at 9 am today outside the CTA headquarters at Lake and Clinton. More info here.
Go here for details on planned service reduction. This includes the elimination of some express routes that have duplicate service. Ignore the notice of fare changes at the bottom. FAres will remain as they are now.

Go here for details on proposed span of service reductions on 41 routes — later start times, or earlier end times – or both.

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  • Remember this next year when the transit agency start talking about budget crisis's. This is not an actual fix to the structural problem, but is instead just a temporary patch to make it through the year. The reason that the transit agency's have to cry about raising fares, or cutting service every year is because politicians have never attempted to fix the problems, all the ever do is patch them.

  • Do people with CCPs have to pay extra on the express lines like the 146?

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    The question should be "Will ..." Since the fare hikes are off the table, and the express surcharges were proposed as part of the fare hikes, it will be no.

    Maybe a more relevant question would have been whether people with monthly passes, including Chicago Card Plus, are assessed an extra quarter when they go through the L turnstile. I don't believe so.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Keep borrowing and make it tomorrow's problem! Then pretend there really was never a problem to begin with, until the next DOOMSDAY... Yeah, that's the ticket!

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Since everyone is using the C.T.A. crisis for political gain,I suggest Todd Stroger join in.Find a few million in the bloated budget for a county subsidy.Avert some of the layoffs.It will further enhance his pro union record.It will take the pressure off his latest hiring scandal and help him keep his job.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    Maybe he will get your vote if he diverts county money to noncounty purposes, but the rest of what you describe certainly keeps him from getting mine. Anyway, if the 1% sales tax hike is repealed Monday and the repeal sticks, Todd will have to find a few million in cuts in the bloated budget just to balance it.

    In that Quinn is playing political games to keep fares down, but at the moment hasn't said how the bonds will be repaid, I'm sure he has your vote.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    Answer Chicago also says "hands off free rides for seniors."

    So that's one protest I won't be going to.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    Way to go CTA! In Toronto the transit system is going to increase the fare to $3 a ride and a monthly pass to $126. Compare that to the $86 in Chicago. Toronto's isn't as fast and doesn't run 24 hours either. Hopefully you guys can keep it low once the freeze period is over.

  • That is essentially the problem I have with public employee unions. A private business would at least put into the calculation that if it gives too much it goes out of business. GM and Chrysler reached that point in the near past, resulting in their stockholders and bondholders being cut out, and a takeover on government terms.

    In this state, the various labor acts give unions the advantage, in that (unlike New York) they let all except police, firefighters, and paramedics strike, and politicians pander to them. Units of state government are not going out of business, and the politicians can just stick it to the taxpayers. Note that neither Quinn nor Hynes promises lower taxes, just that they will stick it to someone else.

    Theoretically, I have less of a problem with the transit unions, since they predate the government takeovers. However, the transit companies in Chicago were in GM's position 60 years ago. The unions now are certainly holding out for Quinn to come up with another $160 million in funny money to keep their members' jobs. In the meantime, the papers report that Stroger isn't pandering to the unions, as James wants, but is to his constituencies--relatives of Bobbie Steele, Louis Farrakhan, and his own. You know that is why he is fighting tooth and nail to preserve that 1%.

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