While all three area transit agencies are facing budget deficits for 2012, Metra is engaging its riders in helping decide the awful solutions. And I think it’s a tactic that the CTA should try.
On its website, Metra calmly lays out the reasons for the current budget shortfall for 2012, and they apply to the CTA:
- A faltering economy caused sales tax revenues to plummet.
- The rising cost of diesel fuel.
- The inability to continue to neglect an aging infrastructure by transferring money from the capital budget to pay for operating expenses.
The Metra board already has laid out some scenarios to close the budget gap – a combination of service cuts and fare increases. Then it asks riders to take a survey that lists some options. Among them:
- A 25% fare hike rather than making service reductions.
- A 20% fare hike and have limited service reductions.
- Charging a fuel surcharge rather than making service reductions.
I really do like this approach, recommend that the CTA consider it. In fact, here’s a simple poll – with questions similar to the Metra survey – to get things going.