Chicago Sun-Times

The plot thickens

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For months now, the RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace have been talking about how they've ditched their inter-agency squabbling to present a united front to Springfield in an attempt to score more state funding.

That's all very kumbaya, but every now and then, you get the sense that coordination between these agencies still isn't what it should be.

Take the RTA's proposed funding plan, for example.

The RTA is pushing a plan to raise $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.

But officials from Metra and Pace say they don't support the plan and weren't consulted before the RTA announced it to the media.

Metra's spokeswoman said they weren't even invited to the press conference, even though it came two hours after the CTA announced its no-funding contingency plan.

Metra and Pace also aren't thrilled with the bill that just passed the Illinois House Mass Transit Committee, which would implement the tax increases the RTA proposed.

"We wanted a complete package, including capital and operating [money] and pension reform," Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said. "Until we see that, we're withholding our support."

Pace's top brass also quibbled with the way the RTA would divide the money if additional funding from the state does come through.

Of the $452 million, Pace would get $32 million, Metra would get $96 million, CTA $193 million and the ADA paratransit program would get $100 million, Pace officials said. The rest would go to the RTA.

"Our goal was to get $60 million," Pace Executive Director T.J. Ross said yesterday. "If all we get out of this is $32 million, then I'm right back in Springfield in 18 to 24 months."

In short, the days of squabbles between the RTA and its three sister agencies look like they're coming to a middle, not an end.

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This page contains a single entry by Monifa Thomas published on June 7, 2007 2:47 PM.

Reminder: CTA public meetings was the previous entry in this blog.

Pace's new headquarters is the next entry in this blog.

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