The CTA collected almost 13% fewer dollars in fares than expected in January, but still managed to show a surplus of almost $2 million due to lower expenses than budgeted, according to a report to the CTA board by its CFO.
The CTA made up for a drop in budgeted fare revenue of almost $6 million compared to budget on the expense side of the ledger. Key items include:
- Labor expenses were down about 3% ($2.2 million less than budget) due to vacancies.
- Material expenses were down almost 31% ($2.5 million less than budget) because of the need for fewer vehicle maintenance parts.
- Fuel costs were down about 23% ($1.4 million less than budget), with no explanation given.
One scary stat is that working cash at the end of January was just $33.6 million — well below the target of three months’ operating expense. The RTA and state of Illinois owe the CTA just over $208 million.
So, the CTA is OK for the first month of the year, but it makes you wonder if it can continue to keep expenses down to make up for reduced revenues. Look out for additional cuts — maybe internal, maybe in service — sometime in middle of the year, as we witnessed last year.