Rodriguez gifts Claypool with budget $9 million in black so far this year

Former CTA President Richard Rodriguez left the transit agency in decent shape financially for new boss Forrest Claypool.

March 2011 YTD operating expenses.jpg

For the first quarter of 2011, the CTA found itself $9.1 million in black, primarily due to lower operating costs compared to budget, according to a May board report.

Lower labor costs accounted for almost two-thirds of that. Labor expenses were $5.8 million favorable to budget “due to delayed hiring, unfilled vacancies, and higher charges to capital jobs.” Total operating expenses were about $15 million lower than budget.

Fare revenue 2011 March YTD.jpg

However, fare and pass revenue was $5.2 million less than budget, “primarily due to lower ridership and a lower average fare. The average fare for the first quarter was $0.99 per ride and was $0.02 less than budget.”

Still, the CTA continues to have a high fare recovery ratio. The recovery ratio measures the percentage of operating expenses CTA funds from internally generated revenues. The ratio was 54% for the year through March — a full percentage point better than budgeted. The CTA is required by state law to maintain at least a 50% recovery ratio.


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  • As CTA and Pace prove, the recovery ratio means little with all the exclusions, and the way Pace manipulates it (count Downers Grove, but only give it a small subsidy to get their revenue into the calculation, and count capital cost of contracting, for instance). It has been published elsewhere that without the exclusions, CTA was at about 33%; maybe now at 37%.

    I also note that your link is to the May Report, hence 2 week old news. We previously discussed how Rodriguez used his Report to feather his resume, and how the fare revenue per ride was falling, hence I wonder about this too.

    The real question is whether Claypool will get under the hood, and for instance, fire Karen Walker of "diesel was $4.69, which was only .19 over budget" fame when the market price was in Dec. 2009 about $2.20. If what she says is gospel, and Rodriguez did such a fine job getting CTA finances in order (as Wronski also believes), there was no need to move him to Environment Control. One really wonders what the CTA's true financial condition is, with all the lease deals, pension bonds, currentness of contributions to the retirement trust, lack of timely state reimbursement, ad infinitum. Apparently no agency of the state, including the state itself, recognizes accounting principles.

    Call in the auditors, Kevin and Cheryl.

  • In reply to jack:

    Call in the auditors, Kevin and Cheryl.

    That's a great idea. I wonder if the CTA ever gets audited or if they can play with figures any way they want?

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, you might have discussed the fare revenue per ride in a comment two weeks ago, but, believe it or not, not all of my readers read all comments. So it may not be "old news" to them. In fact, all my readers may not have read that post at all.

    Also, no one has reported the first quarter financials overall, so that's not "old news" either if no one has reported.

    Otherwise, that was another great shot you took at me and my reporting skills. Thanks.

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