Chicago Sun-Times

Funding proposal clears House committee

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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.

Last week, the RTA proposed raising $452 million a year in operating funds for Chicago-area transit by increasing the RTA sales tax in the six-county region by .25 percent--on top of an additional .25 percent increase for the five collar counties--and by raising the real-estate transfer tax in Chicago by .3 percent.

Increasing the state match to the proposed sales and transfer taxes would also generate a portion of the funds.

The transit committee's support for the RTA funding plan is encouraging, but the measure still needs to pass the entire House and the Senate before it can take effect. With the state legislative session looking like it's going into overtime, it's hard to say when the transit funding bill will come up for a full floor vote.

The CTA, Metra and Pace need a combined $226 million by July 1 to balance their budgets, a feat they could accomplish if the RTA proposal succeeds.

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9 Comments

Jay I never said I did not think the tax was right. I agree with the tax as long as they also increase fares also. I have no problem with the tax just that the ridership should shaer a little more of the burden.

Chuck,

It is not only those who do not have cars that use public transportation.

I have two cars - But I travel for two hours each way on the bus because it makes sense.

Less gas gets used. There is less wear and tear on the roads. Less exhaust emissions. Less cars on the already congested roads.

I think that fighting over an increase in sales tax of less than a quarter of a percent and less than a third of a percent real estate transfer tax increase is short sighted on your part.

Can you imagine trying to get to work with -at least- half a million more cars?

Public transportation benefits everyone - not just the people actually on the busses and trains.

Get a car? That is a brilliant solution, lets just crowd the road with even more cars just because you don't ride the train. Perhaps I will get a car, and take your parking spot, or make your rush hour that much longer.

Why don't people get the simple fact that the less people who own and drive cars means more space on the road for those that do.

I don't have a problem with driving, or owning a car, and acknowledge that most people have no choice but to drive or own a car (even though I don't own a car), but I do have a problem with such a myopic attitude toward transit (especially having traveled around the world and seeing what properly funded transit looks like).

I would love to be able to use public transportation more but I do not have the access as I live in the far southwestern suburbs. I could see raising taxes in the collar counties if Public transportation was reasonably accessible to everyone in those counties, it isn't though. Our road systems are also used by more people. The RTA is used in only a few counties in the state of Illinois and also roads that are heavily subsidized as you said are not only "routes to work" the have a very substantial affect on the commerce of the state. It is not like the roads are only built for people to travel to work and get around. BUT the CTA, PACE and Metra are designed specifically for that purpose! No other purpose than getting people to and from! So in my opinion it should be funded by the people that use it. If you do not want to pay higher fares, then get a car pay insurance, parking fees and gas.

Chuck -- While I agree, as a carfree transit rider, that it might make sense to raise fares a bit, you should also know that your roads and highways are subsidized even more heavily than public transit. Thus, I'd also vote for drivers to take more of their burden for their chosen form of transportation -- toll all roads, establish a congestion fee to enter the city like London has done, and stop building and maintaining highways with tax money. While the CTA has to fund its operations half from the fare box, there is no similar requirement for our regions road system. I'd encourage you to reflect back on your own statement and look at it from my perspective: "The people that use the [road and highway system] everyday need to shoulder more of a burden than taxpayers that do not [drive]." As we've sunk more and more tax money into highways, we've only created more traffic. If we are going to subsidize any form or transportation, we should subsidize the one that saves energy, is better for our region's air quality, encourages a more active lifestyle, encourages denser development patterns that preserve farmland, and eases traffic congestion (benefiting those people for whom transit isn't an option).

You should also note that you are paying significantly less for gasoline than anywhere else in the developed world.

Yes and because I am not using the system, I am paying more tax on my gasoline than anywhere else in the country. So why should I have to pay even more taxes? And the state and federal government are supposed to match the fare box revenue that the CTA takes in so that should be another reason to raise fares.

In response to the first comment- The CTA would use tax increases to increase revenue because public transit affects everyone- including those who do not use it. For every person who uses public transit, there is one less car congesting the road.

wasnt an extensive audit just completed? why doesn't the CTA head any suggestions? I feel like they will do it their way, and if they dont' get their way, they threaten fare increased and decreased service. The CTA is a joke.

Why would the RTA only use tax increases to increase their revenue? Why don't they also increase the fares slightly also. The people that use the transportation everyday need to shoulder more of a burden than taxpayers that do not use the system.

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