Chicago Sun-Times

May 2007 Archives

In slightly better news for the CTA, Metra and Pace, the Mass Transit Committee of the Illinois House approved a $452 million funding proposal backed by the Regional Transportation Authority.

Illinois House Democrats passed an 11th hour budget plan last night that doesn't include extra funding for the CTA.

As you've heard about a million times by now, the CTA is threatening to make drastic service cuts this fall to balance its budget, in the absence of new state funding.

The fat lady hasn't sung yet--since the plan still has to pass the State Senate--but so far, it's not looking good.

If the Democrats can't agree on a plan by midnight tonight, the Republican minority will have a chance to weigh in, and there's no guarantee they'll be any more disposed to spending more on mass transit.

Stay tuned.

The latest round of service cuts and fare hikes proposed by the CTA to balance its budget may sound bad, but apparently, it could have been worse. CTA Chief Ron Huberman discussed the four other Doomsday plans he rejected before recommending to the CTA board that 63 bus routes and the Yellow and Purple Express lines be cut, and fares raised to as much as $3.25.

Lost luggage

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Today's column about the worst flights to take out of O'Hare Airport got me thinking about another liability when it comes to air travel: lost luggage.

Every year, the Illinois Department of Transportation puts out a list of the 10 intersections that have had the most accidents. The same names usually appear on that list year after year, with a few exceptions. For instance, the junction of Roselle Road and Route 72 in Hoffman Estates has been in the top five for the past three years, coming in first place for fender benders in 2004.

Which intersections would make your list for being the most accident-prone, based on your experience? Are there any that should be redesigned to make them safer for drivers and pedestrians?

CTA Doomsday 2007

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CTA President Ron Huberman detailed the CTA's contingency plan to balance its budget without new state funding.

Some highlights:
- The CTA would get rid of the Yellow Line and Purple Line express routes, 63 bus routes and about 840 employees.
- The agency would also roll out a new fare structure that would cost commuters more for traveling during rush hour.

A summary of the proposed changes is on our website.

You can also read the CTA's press release here.

Do you agree with riders who think this is a bluff, or are you frantically writing letters to your legislators, begging them to save the city's public transit?

At least one source is reporting that Chicago has the highest gas prices in the nation, which, I'm sure, comes as a surprise to no one who's been to the gas station lately. Read the story here.

Ride 'em, cowboy

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In case you missed it, I did a Q and A with Hudson Black, a security officer at O'Hare Airport who patrols Remote Lot E on his horse, Ali Baba.

There have been a lot of dire predictions lately about what will happen if the CTA, Metra and Pace don't get a combined $226 million to balance their respective budgets this year. The latest came from CTA President Ron Huberman, who's working on the CTA's contingency plans if funding from Springfield doesn't come through.

Do you think the state legislature will fork over the money Chicago's transit agencies need to avoid fare increases and service cuts?

CTA bus shooting

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I hope you've been following the story">of the CTA bus shooting that killed 16-year-old Julian high school student Blair Holt. I was at the hospital the night Blair died, and the screams that filled the waiting room when his family and friends learned he was gone were heartbreaking.

For the second year in a row, Miami topped the list of U.S. cities with the rudest drivers. Chicago ranked seventh.

By the time you get a parking permit at a handful of suburban Metra stops with lengthy waiting lists, the Summer Olympics may be in town.

Commuters who want to park next to the Naperville stop on Metra's Burlington Northern Santa Fe line have it the worst, with a nearly nine-year wait for reserved quarterly parking.

But other suburbs are almost as bad: Clarendon Hills, 8 years; Lisle and Midlothian, both 5 to 7 years; and Hinsdale, at least five years.

Is parking a problem at your Metra station? How do you cope?

With gas prices flirting with $4 a gallon in some parts of the city, I've gotten to the point where I'm only driving my car when I have to, which is not much. Paying over $50 to fill up a compact car is not a reality I want to get used to. Not when mortgage payments and college loans are already eating up an obscene amount of my paycheck.

But having done a fair amount of stories on high gas prices, I've noticed that everyone has a different threshold for when they'll start making changes to their driving habits because gas prices are too high. One guy I talked to recently told me his was $10 a gallon. What's yours?

Steve Musgrave designs the posters that the CTA gives to riders taking the train to the Crosstown Classic between the Cubs and White Sox. He also painted those murals of Cubs players at the Addison Red Line stop.

Another little factoid: Steve's is one of the faces peering out at you from beneath the platform of the Belmont Red Line stop. You know, those colorful, cartoonish paintings of people close to the Ann Sather's on Belmont? Turns out Steve is friends with the man who made them, David Cisco. In fact, Steve's such a fan that he calls the paintings his favorite piece of public art in Chicago.

Read more about Steve here.

C'mon, admit it.

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Today's Ride dealt with the increased likelihood of drivers being ticketed in the local lanes of the Kennedy versus the reversibles. It isn't rocket science: more motorists use the locals and more troopers patrol them, so the odds are higher that you'll get pulled over.

So, admit it. Do you go a little faster than you normally would in the express lanes, figuring you won't get caught? Ever been ticketed? You can use a fake name if you don't want to give yourself away.

The Chicago and Sedgwick stations on the Brown Line will be closed this weekend for work related to the Brown Line expansion project.

To get more specifics on existing bus routes serving both stations, check out the CTA's website.

By the way, did anybody get up early last week to watch them move the Belmont station across the street? There's something you don't see every day.

The top brass at the Regional Transportation Authority wants the CTA, Metra and Pace to be ready by July 1 to implement "doomsday" service cuts and/or fare increases to balance their budgets if the state legislature doesn't come through with more cash.

I know it sounds like the usual scare tactics, but transit officials insist that continuing the trend of deferred maintenance and shifting capital funds to agencies' operating budgets will have dire effects on riders in the near future. I tend to agree.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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