News pickup: Union talks stalled; anti-Muslim bus ads cause stir

It was a busy day Wednesday for the CTA. Here’s a roundup of news:

Union negotiations stalled. Crain’s is reporting negotiations between the CTA and the bus and rail workers unions hit a big snag this week. And CTA President Forrest Claypool is “playing somewhat harder ball” with the CTA “with the agency reportedly moving to lay off workers as binding arbitration looms.”

2012 budget expected Thursday. Meanwhile, Claypool is expected to release his budget recommendation Thursday. He’s under pressure to hold the line on fare hikes at the very least. I predicted Tuesday he would, so soon we’ll how good a prognosticator I am. Chances are, he will do as he did last year – tell us that a budget gap of $XXX million exists, that will be plugged pending results of the abovementioned union negotiations.

Anti-Muslim bus ads stir controversy. An ad insinuating that Muslims are violent appeared Wednesday on the back of 10 CTA buses, despite the agency’s earlier attempts to reject the ad, the Tribune reports.

CTA settles suit in bike-removal death. The CTA board Wednesday OK’ed a “$5.45 million settlement to the estate of a Chicago woman hit and killed by a CTA bus while she attempted to remove her bicycle from a bike rack on the vehicle.” Read the Tribune report.

South Red Line station to be upgraded. The board Wednesday also approved spending almost $44 million for station improvement work as part of the Red Line South reconstruction project. The station work will renew and improve eight stations along the project footprint, including painting and lighting, bus bridge improvements, and new roofs and canopies at some stations, the CTA said in a news release.


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  • Since the Claypool budget and union negotiating incompetence has already been covered, let's move on...

    Bus Ads: As the Tribune points out, so long as the CTA claims to be a public forum, the First Amendment wins out.

    Wrongful death: I noted that the CTA Finance Agenda listed this as an "Executive Session" item. Technically speaking, the substance Executive Session matters is not supposed to be on the public agenda, and both the S-T and the Tribune picked up on it right away (the S-T first, saying that the CTA Board would discuss it, like they discuss anything). I'm sure that the fact that the CTA settled the case would have come out in the court record as public record, but the CTA Board again proves that it does not know how to run its business.

  • I see the ads more as anti-terrorist, not necessarily anti-muslim.

  • In reply to JWirtz79:

    I agree. It's against violent, ultra-fundamentalist Muslims in Egypt, not everyone in Egypt who is Muslim. Violent, ultra-fundamentalist folks of any religion (especially the Abrahamic ones) can rot in hell for all I care.

  • Looking at the November Budget numbers, I noticed the average fare dropped 7 cents this month and had .9M more free rides. Undoubtedly the latter caused part of the former, but I thought it was odd considering it bucked the trend of declining free rides.

    Also, I fail to understand this paragraph. September 2012 ridership is .8M less than Sept 2011, but the ridership averages went up year over year???

    "Ridership for the month of September was 46.3 million and was on par with budget for the month and was 0.8 million less than prior year. Bus ridership for the month of September was 26.5 million, which was 0.2 million or 0.8% less than budget and 0.9 million or 3.2% less than
    prior year. Rail ridership for September was 19.8 million, which was .2 million more than budget and 0.1 million more than prior year. For the month of September 2012, average weekday ridership increased .92% from September 2011, average Saturday ridership increased 5.44% and average Sunday ridership increased 5.33%"

  • In reply to chris:

    Apparently another example of where Karen Walker can't count (or at least proofread).

    More interesting would be the reason for the sudden jump in free rides. Maybe it is a statistical result of the prior program ending in Sept. a year ago, but a clearer representation would have been the trend over the year, instead of comparing YTD 2011 and YTD 2012.

    To bring back something I mentioned in 2009, at least Walker is now breaking out the results of the fuel swap, but this is the first time she reported that it saved any money. For instance, the Aug. report was that it lost $0.46/gal, Sept. $0.19/gal. A fundamental of commodities trading is don't do it if you don't know what you are doing.

  • In reply to jack:

    YTD Sept 2012 was 3.9M less than YTD Sept 2011 according the budget presentation. Perhaps the September being the cutoff date for canceling the old free rides program threw off the numbers for that month. Possibly some people didn't get new cards in time or something like that. We'll see next month if it was an anomaly.

  • In reply to chris:

    My point was how Sept. 2012 was compared to Aug. 2012, Jul. 2012, etc.

    I guess by going through each report I could come to some conclusion, but since that wouldn't give the reason, not worth my time, if the CTA is not going to explain it.

  • It's the wood that makes it good.

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