Better economy = more tax revenue = higher CTA funding

Take a steadily improving economy, add in more unemployed people finding work, and what you get is higher funding for the CTA and other area mass transit agencies.

CTA Pink Line trainAnd that also means less interagency fighting over previously scarce RTA funding dollars, according to a Sun-Times report last week:

Regional Transportation Authority officials said they expected regional sales tax revenues to grow 4 percent next year as they proposed doling out a 5.2 percent increase in 2015 operating funds to the CTA, Metra and Pace.

With former State Sen. Kirk Dillard presiding over his first meeting as RTA chair, Wednesday’s session showed few signs of the behind-the-scenes bickering by transit agencies over their proposed RTA funding, or “marks,’’ that have become typical this time of year.

The increased tax revenue will help offset the decreased ridership earlier this year due to the bitterly cold winter. The RTA is reporting that year-to-date ridership is down more than 3 percent due to the cold.

The Sun-Times article also note that the RTA proposed increasing funding for the CTA’s 2015 operating budget by 5.6 percent, to $739.8 million:

Those operating amounts include the biggest issue of annual dissent: discretionary funds. The 2015 pot of $200 million in discretionary funds would be split 96 percent to CTA, 2 percent to Metra and 2 percent to Pace.

Last year, the CTA got 98 percent of about $178 million in discretionary money; Pace got 2 percent; and Metra got money from another pot for capital projects.

With that kind of budget increase, I suppose the CTA doesn’t have to demand 98 percent of the discretionary funds this year.

Of course, this is all a bit preliminary, as the CTA is still determining its actual budget for next year. Maybe we’ll even see it this year before November?

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    Hopefully the new Cermak green line station will give a ridership boost. I noticed on the ridership reports that the 192 bus (U of C contract route) ridership is down. Not sure if some of that ridership has moved to the green line 63rd/Cottage or not.

  • In reply to Seth:

    What time period is the number down on the 192?
    It's always lighter in the summer when people are on vacations.
    Plus a lot of us are annoyed by the new route with the stop at 53rd & Lake Park. Many runs have no one getting off there & on other runs, just one person gets off there.
    The 192 now takes almost 5 minutes extra on the S/B run.
    But you also must remember that every rider on the 192 is pure gravy to the CTA as all the runs used to be deadheads of the 14 or J14 back to the 103rd garage in the morning & deadheads to the West Loop in the afternoon.
    In addition, the schedule of the 192 leaves much to be desired, as the last run makes people wait almost an hour for their Metra trains at Union & Olgilvie, as the bus arrives there just minutes after the trains have left.

  • In reply to Seth:

    I would expect the 192 is seasonal based on school year.

  • In reply to Seth:

    I need to add that no one goes to 63rd/Cottage to get the N/B Green Line as the trains are 20 minutes apart there.

    CTA, Pace & Metra rarely schedule their trains & buses so people can conveniently use them as a system.
    An example is the way the UP West Line skip stops middays at River Forest, Maywood & Melrose Park. The main N/S bus route in the Near West suburbs is the 331 on 5th Ave. through Maywood. It serves Hines Hospital, Loyola Hospital, Triton College & is just a couple of blocks from Costco.
    But with the UP West skipping Maywood, you can't transfer from the bus to train or reverse reliably.
    Just dumb!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    The City(Village?) of Maywood, when it is up for CMAQ funds, sells the renovation of its Metra station as some sort of catalyst for redevelopment when instead it has greater value as a transfer point to existing activity as you have explained.

  • In reply to urbanleftbehind:

    Renovate the Maywood Station?
    There's nothing to renovate.
    It's just two short platforms & no shelter of any kind.

  • In reply to Seth:

    It doesn't make any difference, because, as a result of the Crowd Reduction Plan, U of C has to pay the full freight (the contract when it started was $106/platform hour.

    Sorry you got diverted.

  • Dillard, being a Republican member of the Combine, wants to paper things over, but there is still Emanuel's political push to have the RTA abolished, and like most other things, free him from any oversight. Anyone want to take bets that by November, Emanuel doesn't foment a crisis over a marginal amount of money?

    Also, with the economy up and ridership down, it seems that the Fitzgerald Task Force and George Ranney were correct that the disorganized mess of transit governance here is leading to the decline of the transit system. Yet, Gov. Jellyfish, who appointed that task force, doesn't seem to be holding daily press conferences pushing Saddam El Madigan to pass any transit legislation. Remember that at the ballot box this November.

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