Drivers union takes swipe at CTA in full page ad

In a

full page ad

in Thursday’s Sun-Times, the CTA’s
drivers union took shots at “bloated” CTA management and ineffective
state leadership.

“Given the vital importance of public transportation, it’s bewildering that through the years, CTA management and state lawmakers have not come up with a permanent long-term funding plan for mass transit.” 

More specifically: “Decades of systemic mismanagement and political interests have paralyzed the opportunity to produce a stable funding source for the riding public.”

Then it trots out the tired old argument that the city only give the CTA $3 million — the same amount for 20 years. I say it’s tired because former CTA President Ron Huberman answered those critics when I asked him.

Finally, here are the union’s suggestions to save money:

  • Mandate fewer CTA management positions.
  • Abolish the RTA.
  • Consider a dedicated funding source.

The union also suggests that the CTA “should slow the process that could lead to service cuts, and conduct public hearings on funding alternatives.”

What’s your opinion?


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  • If the union actually wanted the riders to see their ad, they should have put it in the Redeye.
    Just shows us how out of touch the union leadership is!

  • 1. At this point, the union can say what it wants, but we aren't motivated by it. I'm surprised that some union hasn't placed ads repeating Todd Stroger's "we'll have to close the hospitals, and people will die in the streets." Or, maybe they did, but this isn't the Toddler Tattler.
    2. If they were serious, they would call for not only abolishing the RTA, but all 3 service boards, and starting over. Certainly the CTA needs to be abolished before the RTA, in that that is where the mayoral patronage and much of the inefficiency lies. In that that wasn't mentioned (at least in this posting), it appears that they are somewhat in cahoots with the political management they decry. I'll bet they want "Ask Carole" back, to campaign for "funding."
    3. If they were really serious, they would campaign to reform the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, and replace it with something like New York's Taylor law, which bans strikes and fines workers 2 days for each lost. As union comments about "permanent funding" indicate, they work for the taxpayers (probably 75% of their pay and benefits are paid by the taxpayers), and thus should not be exerting economic pressure on them.
    4. As far as the continued union mantras "permanent solution" and "permanent funding source" they supposedly got both (and certainly the second) in the 2008 RTA bill, which raised the sales and Chicago real estate transfer taxes. But, guess what, the recession hit and collections are down. Robert Kelly now says that the solution is a gas tax, but that's not "permanent," either. Although demand has some elasticity, guess what would have happened if budgets were premised on gas selling at $4.69 a gallon (what CTA still pays for diesel, at least according to the latest Financial Reprt), a percentage tax were imposed, as Kelly suggested, and then gas at the pump plunged to $1.69, which it did in Oct. 2008, or is even now at about $2.69. The transit feeders would only be collecting maybe 65% of what they budgeted. If the gas tax were based on gallonage, highway authorities are already complaining about increased fuel economy requirements, hybrid and electric cars not paying their fair share, etc. Some "permanent solution," Robert.
    5. Governors enable them, since at least some of the rank and file who post elsewhere believe that Blogo [sic] gave the CTA $300 million in 2008, and where is it now? The answer is that taxes were increased that much. Blago didn't give them anything except a couple of capital transfers to avert a couple of 2007 Doomsdays, and avoid taking the blame for the RTA bill not being passed then because of his threat to veto any tax increase. Now you have Quinn supposedly giving them $166 million, but people here say that is a loan that the RTA will eventually have to repay. Since Quinn is doing this in other areas of state government, no one knows how far he will put the state and its instrumentalities in debt before this term is over.

    Ergo, this is just another reason to put a pox on all their {or as bus mechanics post in other Internet fora "there") houses.

  • Scooter Libbby said: "If the union actually wanted the riders to see their ad, they should have put it in the Redeye.
    Just shows us how out of touch the union leadership is!"

    It was in Redeye the day before it was in the Sun-Times.

  • In reply to Joe001:

    I don't see the Redeye every day & all I knew about the ad was what Kevin posted above, which I take to mean he also doesn't see the Redeye every day.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    You are correct Scooter. I don't read RedEye. I usually read the Trib.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    jack wrote: "...CTA gets its percentage of "old" sales tax money generated in suburban Cook County, plus a percentage of the additional .25% sales tax generated throughout the 6 county area. See section 4.03 of the RTA Act."

    I believe you are mistaken about this, too. The CTA gets a percentage of sales tax money from Chicago and the rest of Cook County, but last I heard the collar counties contribute their sales tax funds to Pace and Metra, not the CTA. If that's changed, it's only since last year's "reform" of the funding and someone other than Jack can correct me.

    It does matter to me that people in the near suburbs pay a portion of the sales tax to help support the CTA, but that's different from the "subsidy" mentioned above to support the bus service Evanston used to operate itself. And Evanston arguably has more CTA service than some sections of Chicago where people pay a higher percentage of the sales tax for the CTA than is paid in Evanston.

    I think the point of all this is that the CTA, despite its name, is not limited to the City of Chicago and benefits many thousands of suburbanites. Even if Daley has more influence over the CTA because he appoints one more board member than the Governor, it doesn't mean Chicago alone should be responsible for its funding.

    And even if your idea of Pace operating all suburban service was viable (how would that affect the train service to Forest Park, Wilmette, Skokie, etc.), suburbanites would still be transferring to the CTA in droves to complete their commutes. In fact, it would likely be more costly and inconvenient for many commuters if they had to switch from Pace to CTA where they now travel entirely by CTA even when originating from the suburbs.

  • In reply to Joe001:

    You really are uninformed.

    You don't need someone else to read the RTA Act to you. I gave you the link--READ IT YOURSELF.

    Evanston NEVER ran a bus service itself. It called in the CTA to provide service when Evanston Bus Company went out of business.

    And, if CTA is such a benefit to the suburbs, TAKE CONTROL AWAY FROM DALEY.

  • In reply to jack:

    And if you can't isolate the part to which I refer, it is 4.03.3(c)(i)
    "and the balance shall be allocated 48% to the Chicago Transit Authority, 39% to the Commuter Rail Board and 13% to the Suburban Bus Board."

  • In reply to jack:

    And don't forget that all of the region's sales taxes are then matched 25% by the State's general revenues, that is, the statewide sales and income taxes. Furthermore, the RTA Act allows the RTA to hold onto 15% of all the revenues and disperse as it sees fit, with most of that "discretionary" money going to CTA, a bit to Pace, and some to Metra (as capital dollars). In other words, collar county residents, in fact, downstaters too, are all subsidizing CTA, Metra and Pace.

  • Instead of blaming Chicago for not providing enough, perhaps they should ask that Skokie, Evanston, and Oak Park, etc pay for their share as well.

  • In reply to chris:

    I don't know about operating costs, but Skokie has invested a lot in the capital costs for looking at new Yellow Line stations and securing funding for the new one off Oakton. Also I know at least that Evanston subsidies the CTA buses that replaced the bus companies there, so they probably do the same for the trains.

  • In reply to chris:

    sargas wrote: "I know at least that Evanston subsidies the CTA buses that replaced the bus companies there, so they probably do the same for the trains."

    I don't believe either is true.

  • In reply to Joe001:

    Look at section 4.03 of the RTA Act, Joe, as I mentioned above.

    So, all I believe is that you are uninformed, or it doesn't matter to you that it is people who shop in Evanston and Skokie that pay sales taxes that support the CTA.

  • In reply to Joe001:

    If, perchance, you are suggesting that various city governments directly subsidize the CTA, I think that is irrelevant. Just as some people claim that corporations do not directly pay taxes, but their customers do, municipalities in this area engage in very few ventures that result in generating profits, and hence the taxpayers in those jurisdictions ultimately pay any assessment. As I noted immediately above, sales tax payers in Evanston and Skokie (and even in areas not served by the CTA, such as those who shop at Woodfield and Northbrook Court) support the CTA.

  • In reply to chris:

    This is just the old Frank Kreusi argument that we serve 40 suburbs, so they should pay.

    First, they do pay, in that CTA gets its percentage of "old" sales tax money generated in suburban Cook County, plus a percentage of the additional .25% sales tax generated throughout the 6 county area. See section 4.03 of the RTA Act.

    Second, the correlative point is that while Frank wanted the suburbs to pay, Mayor Daley has subsequently shown that he doesn't want anyone else telling him how to run the CTA. Hence, I first argued that CTA should cede its suburban routes and the money to run them to Pace, and (as I noted above), the real answer may be to abolish all 4 boards.

  • Chris' etcetera also includes major CTA service in Rosemont, Forest Park and Cicero.

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