Before a packed house in Rogers Park, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel on Monday
night defended both the CTA and his new transit team, and promised more
interagency cooperation among the CTA, Metra and Pace.
are over where the various transit agencies are not cooperating,”
Emanuel said, referring to the sharing of a common fare card, among
Emanuel spoke before about 200 members and friends
of the 49th Ward Democratic Party on the invitation of Alderman Joe
Moore. He showed warmth, humor, seriousness, and determination to meet
the challenges facing the city.
And according to one questioner, those are challenges facing a
“first-rate city with a third-rate transit system.” Some people in the
audience bristled at that comment calling it a third-rate transit system. And
so did Rahm Emanuel.
The mayor-elect was quick to point out that it’s the
second largest system in the nation. “More people take the CTA than any
other city [besides] New York.”
That’s not to say he’s happy
with the entire state of affairs at the CTA, particularly the burgeoning
capital investment needs for infrastructure improvements and expansion.
“We must get to the point where the operating budget is not
cannibalizing the capital budget,” Emanuel said.
In calling for Red Line
expansion on the South Side and its repair on the North Side, he also noted
that 40% of rail commuters ride the approximately 21-mile-long backbone of the city.
must extend the Red Line to 130th Street. We can’t ask people to
participate in the economy if they can’t get into the economy.”
number of times during his short address he referred to his team
approach in tackling the city’s transit, schools and financial problems.
“I appointed teams because it takes a team approach,” he said.
picked Forrest as president [of the CTA] because he was a proven, real
reformer at the Chicago Park District,” said the mayor-elect. “While he
was at the park district, he brought more services to the people for
He also mentioned Gabe Klein, his choice for CDOT chief, for his ideas on bike sharing and transit alternatives.
showed flashes of humor with jokes interspersed throughout his
40-minute speech and Q&A session. As he prepared to take questions,
he quipped, “As Henry Kissinger once said, does anyone have any
questions for my answers. Ha! Just kidding!”
In addressing the
issue of the much-hated parking meters deal, he said: “OK, for any press
here, what I’m about to say is just a joke: Mayor Daley united the
people in this city on the parking meter issue like no other.”
I think it’s going to be an interesting reign for Rahm.