"One-time savings" allow CTA to balance budget without fare hikes or service cuts

CTA President Forrest Claypool reached into his “trick bag” and pulled out about $80 million – enough to balance the 2012 budget without service cuts or fare hikes – and so far without demanding union concessions on “antiquated” work rules.

Here’s how the CTA made up the $80 million budget shortfall, according to a Tribune report:

  • $44 million in labor expense reductions
  • $13 million in lower costs for materials, fuel and fewer injuries from workers.
  • $5 million in additional revenue from increased ridership
  • $17.9 million in additional RTA funding from higher than anticipated sales tax revenue for the final quarter of 2011

“We bought ourselves some time,” Claypool said. “(But) all the tricks in the trick bag are gone.”

The budget sleight of hand was no surprise to a bus drivers union official, who told the Tribune:

“I have learned not to be surprised about the CTA. Just look at the history,’’ said Javier Perez, a vice president of the Amalgamated Transit Union who is serving as the trustee of the international union’s Local 241, which represents about 5,500 CTA bus operators and bus mechanics. The international union took over control of the local last September because of financial and management problems.

Perez said ongoing negotiations with the CTA on a new contract are going “not as quick as I would like.’’ He added, “I don’t know that (Claypool) is still not counting on union give-backs.’’




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  • More damned stupidity!
    All this does is postpone any fare increase & cause it to be twice as high as it should have been!
    Prices for all goods keep going up, especially fuel & electricity, which the CTA is one of the biggest purchasers of in this state.
    Didn't they see the mess Metra got into with its huge, by percentage increase several months ago?
    Raise the fares by a quarter a year on a regular basis until you break even without going into a trick bag.
    That way you don't have to cut back on maintenance, as that idiot Kreusi did, which has caused the current massive lengths of slow zones, causing even greater expenditures on maintenance now or go begging to Springfield every couple of years to save the system!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Scooter, this may be the second or third time I agree with you!

  • At least the original Tribune article confirms my "smoke and mirrors" comment of a couple of days ago, but at least CTA said what its position is. The original article also said that the RTA said don't rely on the projection of more sales tax money from them.

    As Scooter's comment indicates, someone at CTA is sure scared of the passengers.

  • I am not sure why having fuel costs or other variable, hard-to-predict costs come in lower constitutes smoke and mirrors. Sounds like the way projected budgets tend to work in reality.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    You OBVIOUSLY missed my post that banking on not having to pay a budgeted pay raise while labor contract negotiations are pending is smoke and mirrors, because the arbitrator will eventually order a retroactive pay adjustment. Then, all the sudden CTA is not under budget.

    In fact, you also OBVIOUSLY missed how CTA about 2-1/2 years ago reported that they were on or slightly over budget for fuel, even though they were paying $2 a gallon more than the prevailing market price. Now, maybe this time they are on the right side of fuel hedges, but again, I'm not betting my nonexistent stack of transfers on that.

    The articles also indicated that CTA still pretty much has a hiring freeze going on, and that's got to catch up with them eventually.

    Maybe, by creative accounting, they can get through this fiscal year, but also note that most of the articles say that the so called "savings" are one timers.

    I suppose that you invested in Countrywide and Enron, too. Or even Facebook.

  • In reply to jack:

    I think a dose of cynicism is healthy every now and again -- a posture of skepticism is the right one when it comes to any statement from a leader, public or private. But I get the sense you are well past the recommended dose.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    I don't need you or anonymous to be my psychologist.

    However, if, all the sudden, a huge deficit shows up at the end of 2012, and what Scooter suggests happens, I suppose that you will be exempt from any fare or tax increase needed for "funding."

    And obviously, you can't respond to the OBVIOUSLY points, so you engage in pseudoFreudianism.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, in principle, I agree with what you said in your original reply to WestLooper. However, I don't agree with your tone.

    As you know I'm trying to create good dialog here among people who may agree or disagree with each other. But posting sarcastically that someone "OBVIOUSLY" missed a previous comment of yours doesn't necessarily promote good dialog.

    I hope you all continue to discuss this topic with due respect for each other.

    Thank you.

  • Off topic -- From yesterday's press release: ( www.transitchicago.com/news/default.aspx?ArticleId=3030 )
    "CTA Offers Exclusive Naming Rights to Eleven Rail Stations
    The Chicago Transit Authority in partnership with IMG Worldwide today issued Requests for Proposals (RFP) seeking naming rights and sponsorships for eleven ‘L’ stations. O’Hare, Fullerton, Belmont, Addison, Chicago, Grand/State, 95th, North/Clybourn, Midway, Ashland 63rd and 79th stations could become the new location for businesses to showcase their brands."

    Someone should tell the geniuses at CTA's press relations department (and maybe whoever is in charge of the naming rights program) that there are 2 separate Belmont stations, 3 separate Addison stations and 3 stations named Chicago. I assume they mean to offer the Red and Red/Brown stations for naming rights, but I can't tell that from their press release.

  • In reply to anonymous:

    So call up the advertising agency and ask them what's out to bid.

  • In reply to anonymous:

    Wherever it was I read it specified which stations they were talking about.

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