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About "almost" 2005 CTA cuts and fare hike, and what the hikes were for 2006-2009. And now the 2009 meme choses looms

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Short Nitty-

Deja vu, vu, vu, vu. Doomsday was back on the table in Feb. 2009, with a deficit of over $200 m looming for CTA and big shortfalls for Metra and PACE. Service cuts and fare hikes are both likely. The legislature may change the "seniors free" provision to apply only to those qualifying as "low income" with others to pay half fare. There is rumored to be a plan to avoid fare cuts or rate hikes, but it requires legislative changes the legislators may not like.
By July CTA had determined it does not need service cuts or fare hikes the remainder of 2009, but might for 2010 if revenues don't start back up.

The new Doomsday is February 7, 2010: See the index transit home on where to see whole 2010 budget and dates and locations of hearings.

Doomsday is partly averted again in 2010.

http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/finance_budget/2010budgetbook.pdf

Some highlights of CTA doomsday from print media: Deficit still $180m. Rides cost $7 and tax take is down %30 percent. Lost to seniors and others free: $30m.

Fare hikes: Averted: Fare hikes, fares being frozen for two years under a bond issue agreement brokered by Gov. Quinn, RTA, andCTA.

Service cuts: Some are finalized some not.

110 of 150 routes and trains- less frequent service -waiting times could increase dramatically. There may be adjustments to this but some reduction is likely.
Certain: Cut in hours on 41 bus routes (morning and evening, 25 mins. to 3 hours + but here mainly #6, #15, #28 will start at 4 am (vs 3:30 for 28) and at 12:30 vs present 1:30/1:45 ).
Certain: Elimination of express service on 9 routes, here X3, X4, X55.

 
 

 

January 2009 already saw an increase of a quarter both ways, elimination of discount on the Cards, and increase in monthly passes from $75 to $90. CTA blames slumping economy (ridership plus falling sales tax take and real estate transfer tax), increased fuel and utility prices, and more free rides. NOV. 13 2008 THE BOARD VOTED FOR A 15% RATE INCREASE VS REQUESTED 20%. 15% would mean a bus or L ride of $2.30 if applied that way.

It WAS 'NO DOOMSDAY' IN EARLY 2008 FOR CTA/RTA/Metra AND SENIORS WILL RIDE FOR FREE AS SOON AS aPRIL AS THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PASSES THE GOV.-AMMENDED TRANSIT FUNDING BILL ON JANUARY 17.The law includes 530 million in property and sales tax increases. Details of the law's provisions on oversight and fiscal accountability were unavailable. There will nonetheless be a 10% Metra increase in February 2008. Transit home.

Cards: there are few locations that have them or provide renewal. And mail is very slow. Best bet may be to try a Jewel or Osco or a currency exchange--call first or go to hq at 547 W. Lake. The $5 fee is waived through October 2007. Also, the disabilities card is cut in half to $34 through Sept. 15.

Summer-fall 2007: Doomsday is back on the table!!!! September 16.

At the June 13, 2007 public hearing little hope was offered on the $226 million projected RTA shortfall as of July 1. CTA was offering a combination from 4 options for its $110 mllion shasre, should the legisature not come through., These options mixed fare increases, service cuts, and wiping out capital expenditures. The board's preferred plan would raise fares $1.25 during rush hours and 25 cents during off-peak, raise the monthly pass to c. $122 a month and there would be various service cuts amounting to 15 percent. This would cover 36 percent of the shortfall, with 58 percent from capital and 6 percent from administration.

CTA--and the other agencies? sought a real restructuring act rather than another band-aid- and partially got it, althoug it is unclear how long it wil take for revenue to become unbalanced again. . August 1 Speaker Madigan had said he will take a couple days off then meet with Rep Hamos (bill sponsor), according to the Tribune, "to build the bipartisan support to pass the transit bill in the House." Passage or override of a gubernatorial veto require 3/5 majority.

 

Here is what Moving Beyond Congestion supports August 10, 2007:

Senate Bill 572 will stop imminent fare hikes, service cuts, and
deferred maintenance for CTA, Metra and Pace

Below, please find links to a summary of the transit funding and reform
proposal transit funding and reform proposal currently pending in the
Illinois House of Representatives and a strong endorsement of the plan
from the Daily Herald.

SB 572 Amendment 3 Fact Sheet

Daily Herald - Transit Funding Endorsement August 10, 2007

Amendment 3 to Senate Bill 572 is a fair, equitable and reasonable
operating funding proposal that balances the transportation needs of
the entire region. We urge you to follow the link below to contact
your legislator and ask them to support SB 572.

http://capwiz.com/rc/utr/1/GSKXHNCYJZ/MDZMHNDASH/1352719301

The 2006 hit was a quarter increase in fares to $2 for those paying cash (not cards etc.) and end of transfers for those who pay cash. Advocates continue to push for more accountability and a permanent solution and there is complaint that many will not be able to make the simple fix (buy the card(s) or pass, which are downtown except some cards are at some train stations.) The proposal is currently available at the Harold Washington Library downtown. Full information and analysis below.

In early December Mayor Daley said (a day after disabled lobbies rallied outside his office) that the paratransit fare increase should be rolled back. He said nothing during the months this was under consideration before it was passed and submitted. Daley's appointee CTA President Frank Kruesi did in October recommend to the board that paratransit fares not be raised (pt cost is $25 a ride and the increase would garner c. $1.7 million.) The board, however, rejected Kruesi's proposal and now reaps Mayoral and disabled advocate ire, Daley especially rapping lack of discussion at the November board meeting. What will be done? Stay tuned.

CTA rescinded the cutbacks and farehikes after a June 23rd 2005 RTA meeting allocated a full $54 million to CTA and over $7 million to PACE, partly for its takeover of paratransit responsibility in January.

May 29 both houses of the General Assembly passed, and the Governor agreed to, a budget deal that included the CTA bailout method this site reported in April as likely: A one-time grant of c$54 M and a shift, starting next year of paratransit responsibility to PACE and its cost to the state. As little as $47 M (vs the CTA deficit of $55 M) may actually goes to CTA since there is a tug of war with PACE, which actually wants $7-10M--IDOT wants it all to CTA but RTA makes the decision. This is supposed to be settled at a June 23 meeting.

RTA was made responsible for Paratransit services that will now be provided by PACE.

CTA was early reported at first as required to certify no service cuts or fare hikes this year, and the (House only?) passed a resolution by Rep. Fritchey May 31 requiring CTA accounting on such matters as performance, pensions, capital, and compliances--as sought by our Task Force, Chicago Transit Coalition, and Campaign for Better Transit. CTA says it will comply with the resolution.

This is a just a one-year stave-off, enabled by $2.3 billion that were to go into state-run pension plans (with some reforms-or not and reportedly much pork thrown in) used to plug the state's budget deficit over the next two years. CTA has now said it will scrap the enacted July 17 cuts but was to decide June 9 whether to defer at least until the end of the year increases in paratransit fares. CTA president Frank Kruesi says he is in contact with the gov. and legislators about long-range solutions. So far, the legislature is irked both at CTA's ideas an its tactics; many think Kruesi will go within a few months. Rep. Hamos says we have come only half way and the CTA has some moving to do, and while the legislature knows CTA may have to still have a fare hike, service cuts would be a no-no this year. Still, there is no remedy in sight for future deficits, and even a permanent fix would not help for 2006 without another one-timer, which wouldn't happen this year at least--so expect "doomsday revisited" to pop up in this website as soon as September, for effect in January. Rep. Currie has warned that this year's funding is only a band-aid. (See discussions of the transit funding formulas and alleged problems arising from them in CTA Funding 2005 and Transit-Regional pages.)

April 13 the CTA Board chose a modified option to go into effect if there were no legislative bailout. And a legislative committee did report that the current funding formula is flawed.
See Plan Details, since they will probably come up again: http://www.transitchicago.com,
or the press release at http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&
articleid=131918
. To offer input
on the proposed cuts, call 1-888-968-7282 or mail/e-mail
to the CTA at P.O. Box 7567, Chicago, IL 60680, Attention: CTA board assistant secretary Gregory Longhini or to ctaboard@transitchicago.com.
Chicago Transit Coalition mtg. with Julie Hamos reports progress April 30

Looming in coming years? CTA fund and regional allocation crisis and fight? See Regional (incl. differing views on changing formulas, giving more to CTA...That page also has news on regional planning and the federal transit funding fight). CTA's site on its needs for funding and proposed cuts:
http://www.yourcta.com/news/newspostdescs/20040915funding.pdf or www.keepchicagolandmoving.com.
CTA's url on its proposed "worst cast" cuts:
http://www.transitchicago.com/downloads/budget.2005sum.pdf go to pp. 9, 13, 14 etc, summ. p. 59.

In this page:

For more about it read Transit Task Force Chairman James Withrow's essay in Transit Task Force page.

Campaign for Better Transit. A site for contacts and sample letters are given there and in http://www.ncbg.org/resources/htm.
CBT hosts a Community Transit Summit November 12 (Saturday) at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington.

Proposed 2006 fare hike

The 2006 hit will be a quarter increase in fares to $2 for those paying cash (not cards etc.) and end of transfers for those who pay cash. Note that the changes will apply to all magnetic stripe fares on the trains (some sources say all train rides will be $2, others that it will not apply for holders of the Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus and passes. There is a window of waiver of fee Dec. 1- March 2006 for buyers of the Chicago and Chicago-Plus cards, although the minimum that must be added per transaction to get the 10% bonus is expected to increase from $10 to $20. And more card machines, such as in stores is under consideration. A couple other wrinkles are that transit for the disabled jumps from $1.75 to $3 (rec. to be cut from 3.50, to keep in line with PACE) despite the cost and responsibility now being placed on PACE and RTA (a 27m paratransit fund), and the downtown Rush hour shuttle goes from $1 to $2.

Also passed was a $4 pilot program to introduce 61 fare (card) machines in neighborhood Currency exchanges, with option to expand. Once you have a card, you can touch it to a scanner, pay, see verification, and touch the card to the scanner to authorize the transaction.

Advocates, especially Campaign for Better Transit of NCBG continue to push for more accountability and a permanent solution, and complain that it's hard to switch to card or pass except downtown. This came out at its Community Transit Summit in November. Hyde Parker Harold Wolff was quoted in the Herald that the burden is put on those least able to bear it--those who can't go down and put $20 or $40 a pop on a card. Vincent Byrne said the elimination of transfers is bad for him; cash is much more convenient than cards or passes day to day.

CTA said the the increase is limited to cash fares and rail customers who use magnetic strip cards and so shields the most price sensitive customers while generating $17 m to offset fuel costs.

Local advocates, including James Withrow of the HPKCC Transit Task Force and Judy Roothaan of OWL (Older Women's League) expressed disappointment to the Herald that CTA designated no Hyde Park sites for touch-and-go money adding machines for Chicago Cards--the nearest being in the 300 block of E. 47th. CTA says the currency exchanges initially chose are near bus stops where or near the cards can be bought and that this is an initial trial.

The proposal is currently available at the Harold Washington Library downtown. Also visit transitchicago.com or call 888-YOUR-CTA. The budget was approved at the November 9 CTA board meeting and went to the RTA November 15.

The fare increase would provide $17 million toward closing the shortfall. The 2006 budget process began with a $90 million shortfall projection. The RTA has provided $14.1 million and the paratransit fund 27.1, leaving a $49 million deficit. CTA President Frank Kruesi said in a statement that shortfalls will continue to worsen unless there is a change in the way transit is funded.

The proposed budget is $1.037 billion, $40.6 million, 4.1% up from 2005. Most of the increase is attributed to escalating fuel costs, rising from $12.5 m or 1.5% of budget in 1999 to $48 million and 4.6% of budget in 2006. Also cited are rising healthcare premium and litigation costs.

HPKCC Transit Task Force chair James Withrow was nonetheless disappointed at the increase and the brunt born by cash-payers. "People who are tourist can't be expected to buy the Chicago Card Plus and people who ride the CTA irregularly use cash. [This] doesn't make CTA seem any warmer to them," Withrow told the Hyde Park Herald.

CTA blames much of the immediate shortfall on escalating fuel costs (24 million gallons a year), which went from $12.5 m in 1999 to $48 m next year, just about the size of the remaining shortfall. The fare hike will shorten the gap by about $17 million to c. $30 m.

John Paul Jones of Neighborhood Capital Budget Group stresses the impact of the fare hike on low income people, especially those living remotely from the rapid transit system which has the card machines, and who are least likely to familiar with (or be able to put out advance payments for) cards or passes. CTA counters that there are many options to avoid the fare increase. 200,000 alone already use the cards. This heavily includes transit-dependent persons. Jones said those attending the October 27 hearing should not only protest the increase but demand more accountability for CTA.

Withrow, of HPKCC, also noted that such fare hikes are just quick fixes. He said the city should expect to have to regularly help support public transit more and not rely on the state.

Brian Shaw, director of University of Chicago Transportation and Parking Services did not expect an impact on the University-CTA leased service.


Legislators' scuttlebutt

At their April 23 town meeting, Rep. Currie and Sen. Raoul said they find the cuts unacceptable and stand fully behind help for the CTA, but indicated that the majority of legislators are not yet convinced that CTA needs a bailout and are especially disinclined to fill it by closing a software tax loophole (that only got 23 votes in the House last year) or by taking money from Metra. (Indeed, Currie said Metra needs more, too.) The governor says he will veto tax increases. Rep. Currie says the idea being talked about now is moving paratransit responsibility (about the right amount, $55 million cost to CTA annually) PACE and reimbursing from the state, and seeking reimbursement in turn from federal Medicaid. Note that this is no long-term solution.

In the first week of May, aldermen including Toni Preckwinkle (4th) lobbied in Springfield for help for the CTA. Preckwinkle was quoted saying "I have a lot of transit-dependent people in my ward who ar going to have a tough time getting to work, to church and t school."

The plan adopted by the CTA Board April 13, 2005. Specifics

As required by obligations to the public and employees, the CTA board chose a set of service cuts and fare hikes for to go into effect July 17, 2005 if there is no legislative resolution to CTA's budget shortfall. The board chose an option somewhat different from the 5 it set forth for public comment in March. The heart of it is to apply a modified Sunday schedule to the entire system. Board members said the new proposal was intended to maintain as much as possible of core service while not abandoning the 30 percent of customers who do not have an alternative to public transportation. In fact, though, the cuts are so severe for rush hour commuters especially that Metra et al are scrambling to see if/how they could pick up some of the shed load-25% or 100 million trips a year.

Chairman Carole Brown denies that CTA is either grandstanding to the legislature or frightening riders. Governor Blagojevich argued for his solution of closing a tax loophole, and Neighborhood Capital Budget Group/Campaign for Better Transit leader Jacqueline Leavy said the public is indeed being held hostage, "Why should people support spending more for inadequate service?"How long the cuts might last was unclear.

The cuts would most heavily impact downtown commuters (including cuts of most express routes) who expect an expeditious trip and short waits. Any shifting of extra or earlier buses to such rush hour trips would impact all the more heavily on late night trips being cut back and riders on the 54 bus routes to be cut, who will now have to scramble. Elimination of transfers for other than ChicagoCard holders and fare increases for non-TransitCard holders are just two additional burdens. See specifics below:

Meanwhile Julie Hamos's House Transportation Committee reported that the RTA allocation formula is flawed and in any case inadequate to fund any Metra or CTA expansion plans. The report says, for example, that Metra provides just 22 percent of boardings in suburban Cook but gets 55% of the sales tax while CTA provides 60% and gets 30% of the tax. The fact that CTA provided 95% of the city boardings but gets all the tax does not balance out. While Hamos prefers more sales tax, she is open to other suggestions--as sought by those suburban lawmakers who don't simply shut the door on any increase.

Specifics:

Routes eliminated: (Not eliminated: #3, 4, 6 Jackson Park Express, 10 (MSI to River North), 15 Jeffery, 28 Stony Island, 47, 51,, and the UC subsidized routes 170, 171, 172, 173 Lakeview Expr. )

1 Ind. Hyde Park, 2 Hyde Park Express, x3 King Expr., x4 Cottage Expr., 7 Harrison (to UIC, West Side Medical Center), 17, 19 ,23, 25, 26 South Shore Express (a new one that did extremely well), x28 (our best gain in years), 37, 39, 48, 40A, x49, 53AL, 54A, 55A (55th/Austin), 55N (55th Narragansett), x55 (the new, successful Garfield Expr.), 56A, 59 (a shuttle to Red Line from UC described by CTA planners as highly successful), 62H, 64, 69, 85A, 86, 90N, 93, 96, 100, 108, 120 NW/Wacker Expr., 121 Union Wacker Expr., 122 Ill Ctr/NW Expr., 125 Water Tower Expr., 127 NW/Madison, 129 West Loop/South Loop, 130 Grant Park Treasures, 134 Stockton/LaSalle Expr., north lakefront expresses 135, 136, 143, 144, 148 and 156, 157 Streeterville, 165, 200, 205, 206.

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Participants at the April 7 were enticed by board members to help guide choice of poison pills but were having none of them, testimony showing that fare hikes are as onerous as service cuts.
Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th) called the city's $3 million annual subsidy "disgraceful" in its smallness, said every bus and rail route in her ward will be affected. "We can't be a world-class city unless we have good public transportation," she said, vowing to lobby legislators.
Mayor Daley in early April broke his silence, saying transit funding should be a top legislative priority, opting for a sales tax increase. Gov. Blagojevich supported a tax on business purchases of software, which would close the gap in the short rn but was said to have little support.

We must remember that the quandary has a many components- here are 3: 1) differential growth in sales tax base between the city and other parts of the metro area while funding comes from a formula of tax division that was set in a political compromise thirty years ago; 2) service providers that have differing (although definitely partially overlapping) mandates in service coverage; and 3) divided and lopsided political and partisan dynamics and leadership in the city and suburbs, RTA, the statehouse (Democrat but with a quirky governor) , and Washington (Republican particularly Speaker Hastert). John McCarron, a professor who writes a column for the Tribune, guesses that if there is to be a break in the logjam it will have to be through 1) logrolling, since Metra and downstate areas also have needs and wants, 2) "not really" raising taxes but reorganizing and giving more power to RTA, including some taxing power and more planning responsibilities (including those now ascribed to CATS and NIPC but really done by RTA staff). In the catbird seat? Rep. Julie Hamos. Stay tuned: here's the details to date.

March 2005 D-3 months and counting....

"We haven't begun serious discussion on the budget so I am hopeful we will find funding some way in order to prevent disastrous cuts at the CTA... but I don't have a magic wand and I don't see a deep pocket."- Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25).

" To come at the 11th hour like this, it leaves a real bad taste in some people's mouth... The reality is regardless of how they have got to where they are...I'm charged with helping to do something about it." - State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D13).

"I don't want to pick any one of those options because they all harm public transportation... It's time for the city and the state to put a little more money in."- Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit Task Force Chairman James Withrow, all as given to the Herald.

 

December 16, 2004, the CTA Board voted to postpone service cuts, including in pickups for disabled, until July to give the State time to come up with more funding-- a serious effort is promised by state legislative leaders, but these indicate a real independent audit is needed and that increasing the pie will be difficult. If funds aren't found by July, meltdown is possible, CTA spokespersons say. Those expressing caution include Barbara Currie, Kwame Raoul, and members of the Black Congressional Caucus.

CTA website put forth its case for a funding change and more funding. It's c 25 pages and in PDF. http://www.yourcta.com/news/newspostdescs/20040915funding.pdf (It's in www.yourcta.com, "What's New" top item. It's 815KB and may not load. To get to summary, go to http://www.transitchicago.com/downloads/budget/2005sum.pdf and examine graphs pp 8, 13, 14 and others or tell Acrobat to skip to page 59. Also details: www.keepchicagolandmoving.com. Looks like specifics for Hyde Park and Kenwood include ending late evening hours and much weekend service for the #6, #15, #28, #55 and end of the reverse commute on the #2 (to UC/UCH in the morning and from to downtown in the afternoon-one of the signal gains from the reconfiguration). See also www.transitchicago.com or 888 YOURCTA.

Interested persons or agencies are invited to comment on the proposed service cuts and the 2005 budget. Details are available at www.keepchicagolandmoving.com or CTA's General Office, 567 W. Lake Street, 2nd floor, weekdays 8-4:30. There are a series of useful tables and charts. Written comments may be submitted by writing to Chicago Transit Authority, P.O. Box 3555, Chicago, IL 60654, Attn.: Gregory Longhini Asst. Sec'y or to ctahelp@transitchicago.com.

CTA delays service cuts

Hyde Park Herald, December 22, 2004. By Mike Stevens

The Chicago Transit Authority Board voted unanimously Dec. 16 to delay deep service cuts in the hopes the Illinois General Assembly will approve additional funding in 2005. Assurances from top state legislators that they will fight for more funding in the early new year cleared the way for the vote, CTA spokesman Noelle Gaffney said.

"The CTA board wanted to take at their word the members of the assembly that this would be a top priority," Gaffney said. "[But] by taking this action, if there isn't a solution found, the cuts in July will have to be significantly deeper," she said

Michael Shiffer, CTA vice president of planning, told board members that without legislative action before July 1, 2005 service could be cut up to 40 percent and fares could [rise] from $1.75 to $2.15 in order to balance the budget half-way through the year, according to published reports.

The board also put off a vote to double fees for a curb-to-curb service for certain disabled riders.

The CTA tried unsuccessfully during the November veto session to convince state legislators to bail out the cash-strapped agency or rework the regional transit formula that funds CTA, Metra and Pace.

"The state legislature is in no condition to be laying down 80 million dollars," said state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) after speaking before the board. "Their vote to delay was definitely a step in the right direction." Raoul said Chicago's public transportation needs help but he [as well as?] member of the Congressional Black Caucus[?] have first called for and independent audit of CTA's books. "We made it clear that...we weren't going to try to run to try to do something without knowing how the CTA got from point A to point B," Raoul said. "They didn't come to the point were they needed $80 million of relief overnight."

Competition for limited public transit dollars among the three transit agencies means the lawmakers backing CTA have their work cut out for them, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) said in an interview before the votes."Finding the resources and political will is going to be difficult, " Currie said. "The only way is to increase the size of the pie."

 

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CTA outlined possible cuts--this would be just the start if big cuts have to be made in July.

Hyde Park Herald, November 24, 2004. by Mike Stevens

Many Hyde Park bus routes will see service and hours cut after state legislators took a pass last week on bailing out the cash-strapped Chicago Transit Authority, officials said. Unless, of course, they can come up with a workable alternative in the next six weeks.

CTA officials said they will work with the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), the General Assembly and Governor Rod Blagojevich to try to find a way to make up a projected $77 million deficit without cutting 20 percent of CTA service as outlined in a $912 million budget that has been dubbed the "gridlock" budget.

"Without a solution, CTA w have to implement its proposed gridlock budget," spokesman Robyn Ziegler said. " As of Jan. 2, 2005 we have to submit a balanced budget to the RTA."

Ziegler refused to speculate on what those possible solutions might be but the RTA has suggested poaching money from the CTA's capital-improvement budget to make up the projected shortfall. In addition, the Chicago Transit Authority Board ordered a review of a fare increase to $2. The 25-cent hike would add a possible $20 to $25 million to the CTA's budget and mark the second time in almost a year that riders would be asked to cough up more money for their daily commute.

A third proposal calls for the CTA to maintain service as is fo the first six months of the year, anticipating that state legislators might retool the formula that funds the three regional transit agencies: Metra, CTA and Pace. CTA President Frank Kruesi dismissed this proposal in server al report, unless the formula fix is guaranteed.

Under the "gridlock" budget, 28 bus routes face elimination as does late night "L" service. Local riders can expect longer waits for the #2 Hyde Park Express, #6 Jackson Park Express, #15 Jeffery Local and the #28 Stony Island. Service hours for most local routes will be cut back. For example, the #6 will start running two hours later at 6 a.m. and stop an hour-and-a- half earlier at midnight on weekdays. The #2 Hyde Park Express reverse commute, from downtown to Hyde Park in the a.m. and Hyde Park to downtown in the evening, will also be eliminated.

Monday, October 4 a Tribune article claimed CTA staff is bloated. CTA has hired and outside firm to review all operations and staffing. Our legislators are wary but warn of the dependence of so many people on public transit as well as the need to get people out of autos. Some add the need to plan and manage growth more sensibly.

CTA had a specific proposal before the legislature's Veto Session, which by close, November 18, had rejected assistance. CTA claims this does not take from other agencies, but the others counter this. Metra vigorously opposes the CTA proposal. CTA wants the issue revisited in the Spring but rejects postponing cuts unless relief is assured. Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano says CTA is right to ask for more mass transit spending but rerouting funds would weaken regional service (connectivity) including by limiting ability to lobby for federal funds . "Renewing the regional warfare could cost all of us critical funding--and that would be a disservice to the people we serve." Metra boasts 97 percent on-time service and claims its South East line connecting 130 south suburbs, our area, and Peotone airport is crucial to the south side and beyond but would be jeopardized by a shift to CTA.

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CTA to give riders a say on cuts, fares

By Jon Hilkevitch
Tribune transportation reporter
Published March 24, 2005


The Chicago Transit Authority will hold a hearing April 7 to receive public comments about major service reductions and fare increases set to start in the summer if state mass-transit subsidies to the agency are not increased, the CTA said Wednesday.

The hearing will begin at 4 p.m. at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St., Chicago.

Written comments may be submitted through April 8 to the CTA at P.O. Box 7567, Chicago, IL 60680, Attention: CTA board assistant secretary Gregory Longhini.

E-mail comments also may be submitted until April 8 to ctaboard@transitchicago.com.

The CTA board is scheduled to vote April 13 on a plan to increase fares and/or cut service in July if the General Assembly does not change a 22-year-old Regional Transportation Authority formula that provides about half of the operating funding to the CTA, Metra and Pace. CTA officials contend the formula is outdated and must be altered to enable the transit agency to eliminate a projected $55 million deficit in 2005.

Service cuts planned would affect more than 130 CTA bus routes and all seven rail lines, eliminating some service entirely while reducing the frequency of the remaining service and the hours of operation.

Three of the fare options the CTA board will consider for approval involve fare increases without service reductions, at least initially, CTA officials said. One option combines fare increases with service cuts. Transfers or passes issued by Pace and Metra for use on the CTA might also be eliminated under the board action.

The proposed fare restructuring calls for increasing the $1.75 base fare to a minimum of $2.50, and as high as $3.40 to ride trains at peak hours. Transfers would double in cost, to 50 cents.

Charges for paratransit riders and reduced-fare riders would also rise significantly, as would the cost of 30-day passes and visitor passes.

Although the CTA board is expected to decide on a plan April 13, the July service cuts and fare increases would be called off if the General Assembly resolves the transit funding issues, CTA officials said.

Unlike the CTA, Metra and Pace are not actively advocating funding boosts. Metra officials in particular are on guard against any funding increase granted to the CTA that would come at the expense of the commuter railroad.

The proposed CTA service and fare scenarios are detailed on the CTA's Web site, www.transitchicago.com.

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State of matters as of mid March 2005, riders' choices

HP legislators hope to resuscitate CTA budget

Hyde Park Herald, March 23, 2005. By Mike Stevens

In order to prevents severe cuts to train and bus service as well as a possible fair increase, Hyde Park's state lawmakers said last week they would work to fill budget shortfalls at the Chicago Transit authority (CTA). "We haven't begun serious discussion on the budget so I am hopeful we will find funding some way in order to prevent disastrous cuts at the CTA," said Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25).

To make up a projected $90 million deficit, CTA officials unveiled five contingency scenarios in the event state lawmakers do not OK a transit funding boost. Losing the #6 Jackson Park Express, a 75 cent fare increase and less buses on most routes are among the unpleasant possibilities included in the CTA's five "doomsday" scenarios released on March 9.

When the CTA board delayed cutting bus and train service by 20 percent in December, it missed an opportunity to illustrate the severity of its plight without gutting service, according to Currie. Instead CTA officials now estimate they might have to cut up to 40 percent of existing service on July 1 to make up the deficit before the year is over.

Some saw the delayed cuts as the latest example of CTA posturing meant to pressure [state] lawmakers. "It's kind of a blame your legislator approach," said Hyde Park state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13). "To come at the 11th hour like this, it leaves a real bad taste in some people's mouth." After similar criticism from other lawmakers, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the CTA signed a $1.2 million contract with an outside firm assigned to root out administrative waste and identify cost-savings. Despite his reservations, Raoul supports reworking the regional transit funding formula that bankrolls CTA, Metra an Pace. Metra strongly opposes the formula change. "The reality is regardless of how they have got to where they are...I'm charged with helping to do something about it," Raoul said.

Despite finding CTA bureaucracy difficult to deal with at times, James Withrow of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community [Conference] Transit Task Force, said he thinks much of the internal waste has been eliminated and fears local service is next on the chopping block. "I don't want to pick any one of those options because they all harm public transportation," Withrow said. "It's time for the city and the state to put a little more money in."

With tight budgets all around, Hyde Park's state lawmakers acknowledge that even with their support, the likelihood of a CTA bailout is not guaranteed. "I am hopeful that we can figure out a way, but I don't have a magic wand and I don't see a deep pocket," Currie said.

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Commuters voice concern about CTA fare treatment

Hyde Park Herald, March 23, 2005. By Mike Stevens

Hyde Park commuters polled last week were unanimous--they want more transit service not less.But when faced with the reality that the Chicago Transit Authority will likely be forced to make up a projected $90 million budget starting July 1, most said they would rather pay more for their bus rides than wait longer or use a different route.

"[It's] a really hard call, but I'd prefer a fare increase so you don't have to wait," said Chris Houston while waiting for a downtown-bound bus. "The question is will it actually improve the situation." ...

Many riders grumbled that waits already tax their patience and helped additional revenue generated by a fare hike would help keep buses cleaner as well as on time. "They're giving us horrible service and they want more money," Kim Yearger said after hopping of a bus by Kenwood last week. "I could live with a fare increase if the buses were on time."

But not everyone agreed. "They just denied a minimum wage [increase]. How are people going to get to work if they have to pay $3?" Vivien Payne asked before boarding the #2 Hyde Park Express. Kenwood ninth-grader Porshia Williams said a fare increase would make it harder to scrape together the money she and other students need for their commute to school...

Most riders polled shared Hyde Parker Connie Johnson's sentiment. "I'm kind of hoping it isn't any of the buses that I take..."

Robert Waddelow: "You can only cut so much before there's not much left...
Joanne Mims: "I think the executives need to get on the bus..."
Rahad Abdul-Salaam: "I need the #6. I'm usually one for moderation but I say increase the fare...I'd sacrifice the money to not have people leaning on me."
Benjamin Glatstein: "It's so annoying to have to wait for the bus. I will pay the extra 50 cents now... They're a victim of their own incompetence. If they ran the buses better maybe they would get more people riding."

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Alderman Hairston in March 2005 was distributing the following statement with governor and legislative contacts.

For more information or to get a copy contact the Fifth Ward Office, 773 312-5555 or see contacts in this site's Elected Officials page.

"If the Illinois General Assembly does not change the law affecting funding for public transportation, we could see massive service cuts, including the total elimination of some routes and serious reduction of others by July i, 2005- Some of our bus routes will be affected!

"Make your voice heard by writing or mailing your elected officials and urging them to do whatever is possible to save public transportation in Chicago; tell them how it will personally affect your life!

Hon. Rod Blagojevich
Governor, State of Illinois
207 Statehouse
Springfield, IL 62706
E-mail:
governor@state.il.us

Hon. Emil Jones, Jr., President
Illinois State Senate
327 Statehouse
Springfield, IL 62706
E-mail: jones@senatedem.state.il.us
Hon. Michael Madigan
Speaker of the House
Illinois General Assembly
300 Statehouse
Springfield, IL 62706
773 581-8000
Hon. Barbara Flynn Currie, 25th District
House Majority Leader
Illinois General Assembly
300 Statehouse
Springfield, IL 62706
E-mail: repcurrie@sbcglobal.net
Hon. Kwame Raoul
State Senator, 13th District
Illinois General Assembly
M114 Capital Office Building (May be M121)
Springfield, IL 62706
E-mail: raoul@senatedem.state.il.us
Hon. Lou Jones, 26th District
State Representative,
Illinois General Assembly
109 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
E-mail: ljones@housedem.state.il.us

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CTA ready to unveil a bad news Plan B for riders

Herald, March 2, 2005. By Mike Stevens

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) continued selling possible service cuts last week for a bad news back up plan in case the Illinois General Assembly does not provide additional funding to make up a projected multi-million dollar shortfall. Any cost-saving service cuts will be unveiled at the March 9 [10 am] CTA board meeting and likely will be voted on at the board's April meeting, CTA spokesman Sheila Gregory said.

The board voted unanimously Dec. 16 to delay cutting 20 percent of its service after assurances from top Illinois lawmakers that they will fight for additional funding this legislative session. Putting off costs adds $5 million each month to the CTA's $55 million deficit, Gregory said. "At this point [we planned to cut 29 percent, and you know that this is not going to od it anymore," Gregory said. "[The cuts] will be deep; there is no question about that."

Earlier this month, Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposed earmarking $65 million for mass-transit operations, largely for the Regional Transit Authority and the CTA, in his 2006 budget proposal. Blagojevich's proposal leaves the CTA "hopeful," Gregory said. But officials still must plan cuts to provide enough time to notify union employees about potential layoffs and to print up new schedules.

It is early to say what services might be cut, but Gregory said all options are on the table. "Reduced hours, raising fares, [and] eliminating routes--all of these things are being examined," gregory said.

In order to balance the budget halfway through the year with no additional funding, service could be cut up to 40 percent and fares could rise from $1.75 to $2.15, Vice President of Planning Michael Shiffer told board members in December. Gregory said all decisions will be made from square one and that service cuts outlined in October, which included reduce hours and fewer buses on the #6 and #28 routes, will not necessarily be implemented.

Ironically, any cuts will come as the CTA boasts of increasing its ridership for six of the last seven years. Despite last year's 25 cent fare hike, CTA buses and trains carried nearly a half million more riders than the year before. Busses accounted for the largest service increase with the Lake Shore Drive corridor seeing particularly large ridership jumps. On the south lakefront weekday bus ridership increased by 3.2 percent while Saturday rides jumped up 8.5 percent. The CTA cites these numbers as evidence of success for its reconfiguration of bus service on the south lakefront. The route shifts and service tweaks began in August 2003.

...With increasing demand, the CTA wants legislators to retool the formula which funds Metra, Pace and the CTA. Failure to do so would mark the beginning of a three-year cycle of service cuts and fare hikes, CTA officials warn. Lagging sales-tax revenue in Chicago has eroded the CTA's annual budgets under the existing formula, which was established almost 20 years ago. Metra has opposed the CTA's proposed changes.

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CTA threatens to drop #6 [in one scenario]

Hyde Park Herald, March 16, 2005. By Mike Stevens

Losing the #6 Jackson Park Express, a 75 cent fare increase and reduced service are among the unpleasant possibilities facing Hyde Park bus riders in five contingency scenarios unveiled by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) last week in case state lawmakers fail to OK a transit funding boost. The board delayed cutting bus and train service by 20 percent in December after CTA President Frank Kruesi assured the board that top local lawmakers would fight for additional transit dollars for t he CTA.

Regardless, the CTA board must approve a contingency plan by April to allow time to notify union employees about potential layoffs and to print up new schedules. Putting off cuts until July 1 will add $35 million to the CTA's growing budget gap bringing the total to roughly $90 million, officials predict.

To make up that $90 million in the remaining six months of the year, CTA officials laid out five "doomsday" scenarios at their March 9 board meeting. The first proposal calls for eliminating 65 routes, including the #6 Jackson Park Express and the #2 Hyde Park Express. Bus routes would also start later and end earlier. For example, the #28 Stony Island would start 30 minutes later and the last bus would be scheduled for 10 p.m. instead of 1:45 a.m. Riders on less frequently used routes will see major service cuts in this scenario, CTA officials said.

A second scenario would double most riders wait times by reducing the number of buses on the road instead of eliminating routes to make up the budget gap. If implemented, the CTA experts to lose customers because of the long waits and overcrowding.

By raising fares to $2.50, a 75 cent hike, and doubling the 25 cent transfer fee, CTA predicts no service cuts would be needed in a third option. A variation on the fare increase scenario would institute flexible fare rates where "peak users" like commuters would pay up to $3.40 for rail users.

In a fourth option, CTA would cut 9 weekday bus routes, reduce hours and raise fares by a quarter. The final option would scale back service to Sunday schedules eliminating 54 weekday routes including X28 Stony Island Express and the #X55 Garfield Express.

CTA Board President Carole Brown said t he contingency plans are "insurance" that she hopes prove unnecessary. But critics see these "doomsday" scenarios as posturing meant to increase pressure on the General Assembly to retool the regional transit funding formula which funds CTA, Metra and PACE. Metra opposes the formula overhaul.

"We're at a point where we can either increase our transit subsidy or greatly reduce the size of our system," Brown said last week in a radio interview. "We are at as crisis and we are going yo have to address it one way or the other."

In all five scenarios, fares for riders needing curb to curb "paratransit" service will be raised to $3.50. To offer input on the proposed cuts, call 1-888-968-7282 or e-mail comments to ctaboard@transitchicago.com.

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VOICE OF THE PEOPLE (LETTER) TRIBUNE

Transit nightmare
Roger Deschner

May 9, 2005

Chicago -- A freight derailment recently shut down the Rock Island Metra
line, and 16,000 people had to find other ways to get to work.

The highways in from that direction were parking lots, with nobody
getting anywhere at all.

This was a good test. Multiply that by many times over if the CTA's
cutbacks are allowed to happen, as the CTA now plans for July.

All roads in northeastern Illinois will be completely impassible due to
gridlock.

No fooling--we saw that on a small scale last week.

We can love or hate the people who run the CTA, and we can decide to
throw them all out as part of a political deal to save public transit,
but last week's little nightmare should demonstrate to all that this
larger nightmare cannot be allowed to happen.

----------

Editor's note: To read additional letters to the editor, visit
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/moreletters/

Task Force and Metro Seniors member Al Klinger critiques the CTA "scenarios", shows why seniors, other Chicagoans need frequent, convenient, affordable services, offers some long and short term solutions and hits the key flaw:
CTA scenarios don't improve ridership

Hyde Park Herald, March 16, 2005

I am a member of Metro Seniors in Action and am seriously disturbed that the Chicago Transit Authority is trying to solve its financial problems by complicating and worsening them. In this instance, it has indicated it will reduce routes and buses and curtail time of surface transportation all over the city. This will affect almost every area of the South Side where many of us live.

This approach is insufferable to we seniors who are dependent on CTA. Retired people make up 10 percent of its riders. Many of the older people cannot drive because of failing eyesight and slowed reflexes. Close to 60 percent of seniors have no driver's license. In general, almost 30 percent of Chicago residents do not have access to automobiles, many of whom are older people and/or are disabled.

People who live around the city need to be mobile. They need a method that is affordable, comfort abel, convenient and accessible. It has been demonstrated that for every 1 percent decrease in vehicle miles or service decreases ridership anywhere from 0.3 percent to 0.85 percent. A 1 percent reduction in time between vehicles gives rise to 0.47 percent increase in ridership. (See Patrick Mayworm et al, Patronage Impacts of Changes in Transit Fares and Services, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Urban Mass Transit Administration, 1980.) Also it has been demonstrated that ridership in places such as Orlando, Fla. was improved by increases services and routes.

Short term solutions: (a) Use a portion of t he approximately $30 million the Regional Transportation Authority sets aside from the sales tax. (b) A one time use of about $20 million in CTA capital funds for operation. (c) From $15 to $20 million in state/city revenue. (d) Increase the city subsidy of CTA from $3 million to $10 million. This subsidy has not been increased since the 1970s.

Longer term: (a) Go after corporation and high-income individuals, which and who are not paying their income taxes. this amounts to tens of millions of dollars. (b) Increase parking fees, gasoline taxes, casino taxes and cigarette taxes. (c) Make the portion CTA has to [receive] from its fare boxes for expenses more equitable. The 50 percent recovery requirement should be reduced to a level similar to PACE, which is 36 percent. (d) Make CTA's share of the sales tax distribution within the RTA more equitable.

Lastly, just as reducing the route mileage can be disastrous to ridership, so would increasing the fares. It has been demonstrated that each increase of the fares by 1 percent will result in a drop off in ridership of close to a 0.36 percent. On the contrary, reducing the fares as has been done in New York City can enormously increase ridership.

An advantage Chicago has over many cities is easy access to public transportation. If service cuts are made this advantage would be lost because the following consequence would ensue: Low-income employment would be jeopardized since about 30 percent of the people in Chicago do not have access to an automobile.

Older people's independence would be jeopardized. They would become prisoners in their homes. they would be less capable of fulfilling their social, medical and shopping needs.

Those who go to work and school who depend on reliable routs and schedules would likely be more susceptible to tardiness and absenteeism.

Tourists and party-goers would be hampered by shortened schedules and curtailed routes leading to more us of autos. The consequence of this would be more pollution, more traffic congestion, increased deaths and injuries from driving under the influence of alcohol. It is now estimated that air pollution from motor vehicle traffic is costing the community in the vicinity of $200 million because of lung problems, each year.

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__________________________________

Reprieve and new battles before the storm

Letter received by the Conference from CTA Government and Community Relations, dated January 7, 2005

Dear [organization director]:

In November, the General Assembly adjourned without addressing the problem of insufficient funding for this region's public transit. CTA continues to meet and talk with members of the General Assembly and other elected officials on potential solutions to the region's public funding shortfalls.

Leaders and members of the General Assembly asked the Chicago Transit Board to hold off on service reductions and the related layoffs to give them more time to work on the issue of insufficient funding. Chicago Transit Board members voted unanimously on Thursday, December 16, to defer until July 1, 2005, the service reductions and associated layoffs that are included in the 2005 Gridlock budget. There are, however, a lesser number of layoffs and eliminations in the 2004 and 2005 budgets that are not conditioned upon increased funding, and regrettably these layoffs and eliminations are proceeding. In addition, the Board voted to defer the planned increase to paratransit fares to July 1, 2005.

These deferrals certainly do not mean that the funding problem is solved. The Board decided, after careful consideration, to delay the implementation of service cuts and layoffs because of the assurances from political leaders that the funding issue will be addressed this spring. In the event the General Assembly fails to act, CTA will have no choice but to make service cuts and lay off over 1,000 employees in July in order to achieve a balanced budget. And those cuts, as well as other possible actions, will have to be even deeper and more drastic than those proposed for January.

Thank you for your support during these difficult financial times. I look forward to your continued support throughout the spring legislative session as we work to find a permanent funding solution for the regional transportation system.

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Frank Kruesi's Chicago Defender reply to John Pagano of Metra, January, 2005

The time is now for new funding formula for CTA
by Frank Kruesi
January 3, 2005

At last, a serious dialogue on funding transit operations in Chicagoland has begun. The current funding formula established 21 years ago by the General Assembly has led to service cuts, fare increases, a 30 percent regional ridership loss since 1980, and more traffic. To stop this destructive cycle, CTA believes that a new formula and additional funding for the entire region are needed. CTA does not want money to be diverted from Metra or Pace.

It is now clear that Metra’s strategy is just the opposite: Metra wants to continue to increase its public subsidy at CTA’s expense, regardless of the consequences. In his recent letter, Metra’s Executive Director Phil Pagano asserted, “If the funding formula is unfair, then it is in CTA’s favor.” Likewise, Metra Chairman Jeffrey Ladd recently suggested that CTA’s share of the region’s transit operating funds should be reduced from 59 percent to 50 percent.

As a result, CTA customers, who take 1.5 million rides on an average weekday, would face $60 million in additional reductions on top of the already planned $55 million service cuts. These cuts, on hold to allow the General Assembly and the governor time to address transit funding, will become even worse without legislative action by July.

A lot has happened since the formula was last revised 21 years ago. Metra has benefited from substantial inflation-adjusted funding increases. In contrast, CTA has lost tens of millions of dollars in federal operating assistance, shouldered escalating paratransit costs, and seen its share of sales tax revenues decline while still providing about 80 percent of the region’s ridership and service. Meanwhile, Metra service in the collar counties – where transit requires the highest subsidies - has grown while the collar county transit sales tax rate remains 75 percent less than in Cook County.


What do you think? Share your thoughts on the ChicagoDefender.com message board.

With due regard to Mr. Pagano’s administrative competence, the growing financial disparity between Metra and CTA is a reflection of differing resources, not management. If CTA’s funding had grown at the same rate as Metra’s funding since 1985, CTA would be receiving over $250 million more in 2005 to operate its buses and trains. If CTA’s fares had increased at the same rate as Metra’s, it would cost about $1.10 to ride CTA, instead of $1.75. After two decades of dwindling resources, CTA still manages to operate a 24-hour network and provide four out of every five transit rides in the region. Imagine how much more bus and rail service and ridership CTA could have with $250 million more in funding and $1.10 fares.

Even with the best management, Metra too would face difficulties if forced to contend with the same degree of funding erosion as CTA. In 2005, for example, Metra would receive $96 million, or 40 percent, less in public subsidy. The base fare for its average 22-mile trip would be about $5.75, instead of $3.70. Rather than planning rail extensions in the collar counties and beyond where transit rides require the highest subsidies, Metra would be forced to follow the same path as CTA: cutting service, raising fares, implementing efficiencies such as one-person train operation, freezing salaries for non-union employees, competitively contracting positions and functions, and reducing staff through attrition and layoffs. Since 1997, CTA has cut a cumulative $760 million in costs while increasing ridership in five out of six years.

Without action, the operating funding imbalance between CTA and Metra will only continue to worsen. CTA’s funding for 2005 and 2006 remains stuck at 2002 levels – an inflation-adjusted decline of about 10 percent. In contrast, Metra’s funding will have increased by over 10 percent, or $25 million, from 2002 to 2006. Blessed with an already favorable financial situation, Metra’s leadership, amazingly, would like even more money at CTA’s expense.

Metra has proven that service and ridership improve with sufficient resources, but the region’s transit network can only be healthy if CTA and Pace are also well-funded. With the nation’s third worst congestion and looming service cuts and fare increases, the region as a whole is losing out. I hope that Metra joins us as we work with the General Assembly to take a new direction by increasing funding for the entire transit network.

Frank Kruesi is president of the Chicago Transit Authority.

 

--------------------
RTA budget under cloud; CTA cuts remain threat
--------------------

By Jon Hilkevitch
Tribune transportation reporter

January 7, 2005

The Regional Transportation Authority board approved its 2005 budget Thursday amid uncertainty over whether the Chicago Transit Authority will make it through the year without service cuts and fare increases.

The RTA's $1 billion operating budget, which funds the CTA, Metra and Pace, does not include $82.5 million in state aid that the CTA was counting on to balance its 2005 budget.

In addition, the RTA's $1.2 billion capital budget reduced planned spending on transit equipment and infrastructure this year by $260 million--$130 million by the CTA, $117 million by Metra and $13 million by Pace--because the General Assembly did not authorize a capital-improvement program for mass transit. Passage of the RTA budget now shifts
attention to the General Assembly.

"The fact that everyone is now focused on public transportation is good. They know the bottom line is about (more) money," said RTA executive director Paula Thibeault.

Legislative leaders rejected the RTA's request to boost 2005 funding to the three transit agencies by $134.5 million during the November veto session. But the lawmakers pledged to take up the issue--including possible changes to the 21-year-old RTA formula that divvies up money among the CTA, Metra and Pace--in the spring.

The CTA begins 2005 with a $55 million operating deficit that is expected to grow. The red ink will be offset only by new transit funding or service cuts, officials said.

Lawmakers' promise to work on a long-term solution to the CTA's annual budget shortfalls--and to address anticipated steep increases in operating expenses that Metra will face as it expands suburban and reverse-commute service--was enough to persuade CTA officials last month to postpone 20 percent cuts in bus and rail service that were set for Jan. 2.

The CTA board decided to hold off on service cuts or fare increases for six months, pending anticipated legislative action. But the decision to wait and see what happens in Springfield is a big gamble. If the state fails to approve new transit funding, the CTA's threatened $55 million in service cuts this year would require an additional $60 million in service cuts to wipe out the deficit, Kruesi said.

CTA officials are pushing for the formula change to fix what they perceive as a fundamental flaw in the funding structure. CTA president Frank Kruesi contends the formula, which is based mainly on sales-tax collections to subsidize transit operations, is outmoded due to shifting population from Chicago to the suburbs.

Metra officials say the formula has worked well since 1983 and that any revisions could benefit the CTA at Metra's expense.

Copyright (c) 2005, Chicago Tribune

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What Campaign for Better Transit proposes

The want audits, clear budget, within-year hearings to achieve accountability for all the agencies.
A transit summit including Mayor and Gov to tell CTA and Metra to stop finger pointing and get to work
Prioritize service to underserved areas
Sustainable funding solutions.

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_______________________________________________

Getting to the crisis: late 2004

October 13 workshop quick report. The CTA board was reported to be likely October 14 to extend the present routes experiment for another 6 months. The Task Force hopes CTA listens to us and the many who spoke at the September hearing. The Task Force came up with many ways to increase and improve CTA funding, many different from the CTA position. The core group will meet to narrow and reconcile all of these and plan the next workshop, likely to include Metra service ideas.

Is a CTA funding and 'regional split formula' crisis looming?

A dispute has broken out over announcement by CTA boss Frank Kruesi and Mayor Daley that CTA faces a steep deficit in the hundred million dollar range that may lead to fare hikes and to sharp service cutbacks, including to night service. Analysts blame the problem partly on what they see as declining public subsidy of CTA vis a vis other service providers due to 1) RTA shortchanging CTA, 2) lagging or falling city sales tax revenue compared to the suburbs, 3) An obsolete and unfair state formula of regional transit sales taxes rates and allocation among the city, suburban Cook, and collar counties and for its distribution to agencies, 4) the requirement to recover 50 percent of revenues from the farebox- and unfair interpretation of the same. (See Ken Acoff's analysis below.) Note, CTA has identified the up to 30 bus route cuts, probable late night rail and bus routes, route shortenings, and spreading out of headways. In addition to cutting late night on our routes, #2 would lose the reverse commute.

Note that it would appear to require at least a $2.60 fare to role back the bulk of the cuts. Crane's Chicago Business calls for just a quarter. Many are asking why CTA and the city have not said what they would do if the state does such and so, rather than just going to the state. For details of what our task force came up with, see the Transit Task Force page, report on the October 13, 2004 workshop.

There is now a push-counterpush by city and suburban legislators to change these formulas and rules in their respective favor. Media describe any change this year as "highly unlikely." Departing RTA chief Thomas McCracken says CTA receives much discretionary funding so that the sales tax allocation has remained stable over several years: 60% CTA, 30% Metra, $10 PACE. Mr. Kruesi and the CTA have for several years said the formula must be changed. Our aldermanic offices assure that they are following this fight closely and are not inactive--one adding that indeed discrimination is being practiced including it seems by CTA in preliminary scenarios for cutbacks being developed and floated now --They add that that they are in touch with our local representatives. Note also the section on proposed super agency that follows.

See also Campaign for Better Transit Analysis.

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Herald coverage October 13, 2004

Cuts outlined in CTA 2005 budget by Mike Stevens

Hyde Park's bus and train service appear to be on the chopping block as the Chicago Transit Authority proposed cutting one-fifth of its service last week to plug a $77 million shortfall in its operations budget. Unless the Illinois General Assembly approves extra operating subsidies during the six-day fall veto session, CTA officials said last Monday that 28 bus routes face elimination as does late night "L" service.

Local bus routes, including the #6 Jackson Park Express and #28 Stony Island, would suffer reductions in service and hours.

"While we didn't get any routes [completely] eliminated the bad thing is tha almost all of the routes in Hyde Park are going to have reduced hours [as well as] longer waits for buses all day long," Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference transit task force chairman James Withrow said.

"The service cuts are part of the CTA's $912 million "gridlock" budget, one of two the agency announced last Monday, which anticipates legislators taking a pass on funding increases for the cash-strapped CTA.

The second budget, dubbed the "mobility budget," maintains most current service and anticipates $8.5 million extra from the state legislature in Springfield putting the budget 's price tag at $1.02 billion. Under the bad news budget, riders can expect to wait longer for the #2 Hyde Park Express, #6 Jackson Park Express, #15 Jeffery Local, #18 Stony Island. Service hours for most local route will be cut back. For example, the #6 will start running two hours later at 6 a.m. and stop an hour-and-a-half earlier at midnight on weekdays. The #2 Hyde Park Express reverse commute, from downtown to Hyde Park in the morning and Hyde Park to downtown in the evening, will also be eliminated.

Nicki McGil, who works and takes classes downtown, rides the #6 Jackson Park Express almost daily to get back and forth to Hyde Park. "[Now,] you wait on the bus, 10 to 15 minutes, then it's a straight shot to the Lop," McGil said. "I think [cuts] will definitely have an effect."

CTA officials blame the possible deficit on a "fundamentally flawed," 20-year-old formula that funds Chicago's three mass transit agencies--Metra, the CTA and Pace. The CTA warns if legislators don't retool the funding formula, this year's budget would mark the beginning of at three-year cycle of service cuts and fare hikes as their yearly budget continue to erode under the current formula.

Critics argue the CTA's bad news budget employs scare tactics meant to rile riders into lobbying their legislators on behalf of the CTA. CTA spokesman Robyn Ziegler objected to the characterization. "What we are talking about is reality if we don't get additional funding," Ziegler said. "The CTA does not want to cut service. But without adequate funding we cannot continue to operate at our current service levels.."

Ziegler said residents throughout the region will likely feel the effects of service cuts if current CTA riders opt for their cars over trains and buses that come less frequently and are crowded when they do arrive. If you think of how many cars are represented by a full bus or a train, that is a lot more people on area roads, Ziegler said.

Even civic watchdog groups, like the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group, admit CTA is in a pickle. "This is very real. We're confronted with a system that has been inundated with unfunded mandates from city hall," said John Paul Jones, NCBG' director of Community Outreach.

Withrow echoes these sentiments. The CTA will host a series of public hearing on proposed service cuts starting Oct. 14. For more information go to www.transitchicago.com. [mentions the HPKCC workshop of October 13. ]

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Getting Around with Jon Hilkevitch Chicago Tribune date not available- Aug. '04

CTA cuts no bluff, chief says

It's hard to fathom 2 million additional vehicles clogging the Chicago region's already congested roads over the next 25 years, but that is the long-term projection. It's even more troublesome to think that thousands of automobiles that, today, remain parked a good part of the week may be on the road regularly as soon as next year. But it is a strong possibility, according to Chicago Transit Authority president John Kruesi.

Kruesi is threatening to cut CTA service starting in January to levels never before even whispered if a state bailout to help operate the agency does not emerge. He's now on the record saying so, and Kruesi says he is not bluffing.

"We cannot pretend we can run on fumes her any more," the CTA chief said, adding he plans to hold public hearings in the fall outlining the severe service cuts if state lawmakers fail to rescue the CTA from its operating deficit. "A critical crossroads for transit in our region is coming up at the General Assembly's fall veto session. I think we will have Springfield's attention as we move forward," Kruesi said. "It has got to be addressed or we will face a massive reduction in transit services and much worse traffic congestion."

The doomsday scenario Kruesi paints--drawing down up to $70 million a year in CTA service--would be horrible for transit riders. And it would be horrible for motorists who would be sharing the road with swarms of former transit riders.

The CTA provides 1.6 million rides each weekday. Divided by two to account for the average commuter who rides in during the morning and back home at night, that's 800,000 transit customers. Two-thirds of CTA customers are "choice" riders, meaning they own or have access to automobiles but prefer using bus and train operations.

Many commuters, however, would be stripped of their transit options--or find them too sparce--under the service cuts Kruesi said would be inevitable if the General Assembly does not change the state formula that subsidizes the CTA, Metra and Pace.

Remember the yelps from commuters when CTA cut 10 percent of its service in 1997 to save $25 million a year? The $70 million budget gap that the CTA projects for 2004 would require paring CTA service to a barebones operation, affecting operations even during rush hours when buses and trains are packed with commuters, Kruesi said. And the more the CTA cuts service that is heavily used, even deeper cuts would be needed on neighborhood routes in the off-peak hours because of the revenue losses at the fare box.

CTA chairwoman Carole Brown last week stalled passage pf 2005 funding levels proposed by the Regional Transportation Authority for CTA, Metra and Pace. Brown said that the RTA plan was deeply flawed, relying on raiding the CTA's capital-improvement budget to prop up daily bus and train operations. The RTA board is expected to meet this week to consider changes Brown proposed that, if backed with new money from state lawmakers, would infuse an additional $82.5 milling into the CTA and $17 million into Pace.

RTA officials acknowledge the CTA faces manor challenges to balance next year's budget, but they said the CTA doesn't face the financial crisis Kruesi sees. The big question is whether the General Assembly, especially suburban Republicans who believe Chicago has gotten more than its share of state money under the Blagojevich administration, will take Kruesi's warnings seriously.

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CTA FUNDING ISSUES by Kenneth L. Acoff, Jr. [Note, the House Transportation Committee, Julie Hamos chair, largely agreed with this in April, 2005, reporting that the sales tax allocation formula bears little relationship to rides delivered or areas served.

On June 25, 2004, WGN-TV, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times all reported that the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) would be forced to increase fares and/or cut service throughout the system, due to a projected $50 to 100 million deficit for fiscal year 2004. CTA Chairman Carole Brown and President Frank Kruesi reportedly said these increases would be necessary due to inadequate funding from local and state governments. The reports also mentioned that overnight (OWL) service could be eliminated on bus and rail routes.

One advantage Chicago has over many other major U.S. cities is relatively easy accessibility to public transportation. However, CTA service cuts would cause the city to lose this advantage as more people will be forced to drive to their destinations—which would contribute to more road congestion and air pollution—and would make many potential residents consider relocating elsewhere.

People Affected:

Ø Low-income neighborhoods
Ø Senior citizens
Ø Work Commuters
Ø High School/College students
Ø Tourists and club and party goers

Potential Effects:

Ø Lack of access to employment centers for people without reliable car
Ø Less independence for seniors wanting to run errands and meet appointments
Ø Increase in traffic congestion and air pollution due to dependence on automobile
Ø Chronic absenteeism and tardiness for students and employees due to sporadic service and overcrowded buses and trains
Ø Increase in alcohol-related automobile accidents, injuries, and deaths due to potential loss of overnight (OWL) service for late-night party and club-goers.

RTA Statistics (2002 Annual Report at www.rtachicago.com)

Agency Agency Annual ridership (% of total system) Operating budget IL Taxes Allocated* (% of Op. budget) (% of Op. budget
CTA 457,300,000 (80.4) $964,449,000   $441,632,000 (46.0)
58.1
Metra 76,300,000 (13.4) $445,167,000 $238,955,000 (53.7   31.5
Pace 34,900,000 (6.2) $130,792,000 $79,052,000 10.4
TOTAL 568,500,000 (100) $,540,08,000 759,639,000 (49.3) 100

*Illinois State Taxes distributed through the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)

Budget Concerns:

It has long been stated by citizens’ advocacy groups, like the Campaign for Better Transit (www.bettertransit.com/02analysis.htm), that both the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago fall well below other states and cities in terms of public funding (i.e., tax revenues) for public transit. According to a study conducted by the Michigan Land Use Institute (www.mlui.org), Chicago—the nation’s third most populous city and metropolitan area—lags behind the significantly smaller cities of Cleveland, Atlanta, and Miami when it comes to local tax dollars per-capita allocated to public transit. Furthermore, the less populous states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania contribute more tax dollars than Illinois—the nation’s fifth most populous state—to public transit. Because of these issues, the CTA—the nation’s second largest public transit system—is forced to rely more heavily on the fare box for operating revenues than many smaller cities.

Viewing... charts [at the www.mlui.org site, copy available from author or this site]..., long suspected conclusions about public transit funding in Illinois and Chicago have been confirmed.

*Source: Michigan Land Use Institute

Prepared June 28, 2004 by Kenneth L. Acoff, Jr.

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CTA not in crisis, transit chief says. Outgoing RTA boss rebuts agency's budget warning

By Jon Hilkevitch. Chicago Tribune. July 1, 2004

The CTA does not face a budget crisis next year, and the formula that funds mass transit in the region should be left alone, the Regional Transportation Authority chairman said Wednesday.

On his last day on the job, RTA Chairman Thomas McCracken, Jr. said the Chicago Transit Authority "faces a challenge" putting together its 2005 budget in light of a projected deficit of up to $100 million. "But I would not say it is a crisis," McCracken added, disagreeing with Mayor Richard Daley, who on Tuesday said the CTA "can't run the trains and buses without any money....That's why the budget crisis is still there."

McCracken completed 10 1/2 years as RTA chairman on Wednesday.

CTA president Frank Kruesi, who is lobbying state lawmakers to increase the operating subsidy to the CTA, has said that without help from Springfield, service cuts and a fare increase may be needed in 2005. Daley backed Kruesi's dire warning, but a transit bailout is considered highly unlikely because the state budget still hasn't been passed.

CTA officials say public funding for the agency has declined over the last 20 years, primarily because of lowered sales tax growth in Chicago compared with sales tax growth in the collar counties. The CTA, Metra and Pace are funded by a 1 percent sales tax in Cook County and a 0.25 percent sales tax in the collar counties.

McCracken disagreed that the CTA is losing money. He said that the three transit agencies also get other money, including discretionary funds, through the RTA and that overall funding levels have remained stable over the years: 60 percent to the CTA, 30 percent to Metra and 10 percent to Pace.

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Payne, of the Gray Line coalition, on CTA lobbying for funds and better options to allocate and coordinate scarce funds. July 3, 2004

While the City and CTA very correctly state that without an increase in operating funding, CTA fares will have to be raised and some services cut; this is well known here and in Springfield.

It is also known that some of the extremely scarce operating funds that the CTA is seeking, will be used to operate in direct competition with parallel Metra services; rather than attempting to coordinate the
services to utilize what funds may be available the most profitably.

Particularly on the Southeast Side of Chicago, where the CTA Red and Green 'L' Lines, and many CTA bus routes (especially the South Lake Shore Drive express routes 2, 6, 10,14, 26, and X28), operate in direct
competition for passengers and operating funds with Metra Electric's parallel and adjacent South Chicago and Kensington in-city suburban train routes; sort of like pumping air into a tire with a slow leak.

There is a highly recommended Major Capital Project included in the Chicago Area Transportation Studies Shared Path 2030 Program for the future of the NE Illinois Region (CATS RTP Proposal ID # 01-02-9003 - "CTA Gray Line 'L' Route).

In 2003 it was ranked the Most Eligible Project for Funding of all those submitted to CATS Shared Path 2030 by CTAQC (the Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission - a program of the Center for Neighborhood Technology).
The proposal would integrate and coordinate the parallel SE Side CTA and Metra services at a very low capital implementation cost of $100 million.

It would greatly reduce CTA's SE Side operating budget, reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, and greatly increase ridership; mainly by allowing buses to be used as feeders to the electric rail line,
rather than wasting fuel and manpower, and creating pollution running many buses to operate competing long-haul services.

Metra would make money selling the service to CTA, just as they purchase operation of their commuter train services from the BNSF and UP Railroads; a win-win-win situation for all.

It would also provide a new 37 station 22-mile Regional CTA 'L' Route serving all the SE Lakefront Corridor with it's many attractions, detailed information about the proposal is available at:
www.Grayline.20m.com .

There are many other proposals submitted by citizens, groups, and community organizations to CATS 2030 RTP that should be looked at (rather than just those provided by the transit operators themselves),
as a way of reducing capital and operating costs, and making the best use what funds are available.

Maybe the people in Springfield feel that CTA, RTA, and Metra aren't exploring all the options (for using the very scarce funds that they are seeking - the most efficiently) so why listen to them ask for more.

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CTA money woes move few

Chicago Tribune, July 22, 2004. By Virginia Groark

While Chicago Transit Authority officials continue to warn about the agency's shaky finances, they face a challenge in Springfield where there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm for revamping a regional transportation funding formula to send them more money.

Several legislators who sit on transportation committees said they are willing to discuss the 21-year-old-formula that divides coveted dollars among the CTA, Metra and Pace. But changing it is another matter. "It definitely merits some discussion,," said Rep. David Miller (D-Calumet City), vice chairman of the house Transportation and Motor Vehicles Committee. But, he added, "We have people who need to go to jobs out in the south suburbs and we have the fast growing areas of Will and Kane Counties that need transportation too, so with a limited pie it can't be just all about CTA vs these other communities."

Increasing the funding is another option, but the state's current fiscal problems could make that a hard sell. Though transportation officials say it's nothing new for the agencies to want more dollars, this year's request has an added urgency. The CTA says it is facing a deficit of as much as $75 million in 2005 and without additional funds could have to impose its second fare increase in as many years and drastically reduce service.

Many politicians and transportation officials are wary of making changes to the existing funding formula because it strikes a delicate balance between the needs of the city and the suburbs. Any modifications could ruin what has been a largely peaceful coexistence.

Such tensions flared earlier this year when a regional transportation task force was looking for solutions for worsening congestion and sprawl. The panel's final recommendations included changing the makeup of the Regional Transportation Authority board, which suburban officials believed would give more power to Chicago and Cook County, and merge Pace and Metra.

All of this and an ongoing search for a new chairman of the RTA board has some suburban officials saying it's not a good time to tinker with the formula. Others question if CTA has cut enough internally.

"The CTA has been after more of that money for years rather than face up to some tough issues of their own," said RTA board member Donald Totten, a Republican who represents suburban Cook. "There are a lot of considerations that they have to make internally before they could make a credible case for more of the suburbs' money."

But CTA Chairwoman Carole Brown said the agency has made tough cuts and re-evaluating the funding formula only makes sense. Although the federal government analyzes funding for transportation projects every six years, the Chicago area hasn't studied the issue since 1983. "Transportation needs change," said Brown, who also is an RTA board member.

Under the existing plan, the transit agencies 'operating budgets are funded, in part, with the equivalent of 1 percent of the sales tax collected in Cook County and a one-quarter percent of the sales tax received in DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will Counties.

Of those dollars, CTA receives all of the revenues collected in Chicago and 30 percent o the funds collected in suburban Cook. Metra receives 55 percent of the money collected in suburban Cook and 70 percent of the funds collected in the five other counties, while Pace's cut consists of 15 percent of revenues from suburban Cook and 30 percent from the collar counties.

Revenues in the collar counties are increasing at a greater rate than in Cook, but the RTA also divvies up discretionary funds, with more than 95 percent of that money going to the CTA, said Dave Loveday, an RTA spokesman.

The CTA says it is being shortchanged by the outdated formula. And though CTA officials have not asked for subsidies to be taken from Metra or Pace, they note their agency serves 81 percent of mass transit riders, including 46 percent of suburban riders.

Under one proposal, the sales-tax contribution from the collar counties would be increased to 1 percent. But when that idea was floated recently, some suburban leaders said they would be unwilling to share any of that increased revenue with the CTA.

The regional transportation task force did not suggest changing the formula. To do so now would be disastrous, said Patrick Durante, a RTA board member from DuPage. "We're coming out of very bad financial times," he said. "Anybody with any sense of intelligence knows that, if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Such sentiment has led Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville), who chairs the House Transportation and Motor Vehicles Committee, to believe chances are small that the formula will be changed soon. "From a political standpoint, it would be very difficult," he said.

Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), who has met with Brown, said the issue could be raised in the fall veto session, but would be a challenge. "It's always a very difficult thing to take on, but I also think that there's some information that enough people have not really had before," Hamos said. "It would take a lot of work and a lot of information to get us to that point."

Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) said it is most important to determine what is best for the entire region. "If those changes can be made by changing the formula, we ought to be able to do that," said Garrett, vice chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee. "If it looks like changing the formula will be more of a problem and mess things up, then we shouldn't do it."

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To the 2004-5 CTA cuts and hike question