Chicago Sun-Times

September 2007 Archives

CTA cleaning up its act?

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The CTA says it is cleaning its Red Line trains more often and will get more aggressive about cleaning buses and rail cars on other L lines within the next six months. Have you noticed any difference?

Which CTA L stops and bus routes are desperately in need of a scrub job?

So, the crisis has been averted for now.

The CTA and Pace are backing off from planned fare hikes and/or service cuts that would have taken effect Sunday. But stopgap funding from Governor Blagojevich has only delayed doomsday budget cuts until Nov. 4.

What do you think the odds are that state legislators can come to agreement by then on a transit funding package?

If they don't, transit officials are predicting an even bigger meltdown than would have occurred Sunday. For instance, the CTA would have to lay off 1,000 people instead of 600, and more bus and rail routes would be cut, President Ron Huberman said Friday. Metra has also said that it would have to raise fares next year, and Pace would be just a skeleton of its former self with the drastic service reductions that officials have outlined.

Here's hoping the next six weeks in Springfield are a lot more productive than the last 9 months.

Check out Mark Brown's column today on Gov. Blagojevich's $24 million bailout for the CTA. He does a pretty good job of summing up the underlying issues behind the governor's offer and the CTA and RTA's reaction to it.

The big news of the day is the governor's potential bailout for the CTA (see next entry), but the agency's board also approved a contract at its meeting today that might make riders on the Blue Line happy:

The CTA board approved a $91.2 million contract for track work that would remove slow zones on the Blue Line from Addison to O’Hare by the end of next year.

Ridership on the Blue Line has dropped 5 percent since last year, partly due to riders being fed up with being stuck on slow-moving trains.

This just in....

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Threatened CTA fare hikes and service cuts may be off the table if the RTA board accepts a $24 million bailout from Gov. Blagojevich.

In a morning meeting at the Thompson Center, the governor offered to immediately advance the full amount of a state subsidy to the CTA's umbrella organization, the Regional Transportation Authority.

That would enable the RTA to give the Chicago Transit Authority a $24 million funding boost right now — money that could allow the agency to avoid service cuts and fare hikes until Nov. 4.

By now, I'm sure you've heard about all of the "ineffective management" at the CTA that led to last year's Blue Line derailment, according to a federal report issued yesterday.

We're talking falsified track inspection reports, poorly trained employees and virtually no oversight by the people in charge.

In fact, one investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board said he'd never seen track conditions "anywhere near as bad" at an accident scene as what he found on the CTA Blue Line.

Does that change how you feel at all about the CTA's bid for more state funding?

What do you want to know?

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CTA President Ron Huberman has been on the job close to six months now, and depending on what happens in Springfield this week, he may have to oversee massive service cuts and fare hikes on the CTA system.

Anything you're curious to ask him? Send me some questions, and I'll try to get them answered for you.

If you want more info on the new CTA fare structure and a map of the bus routes being cut, check out our website.

More bad news

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They say politicians like to release bad news on Fridays. Well, this announcement from Senate President Emil Jones' office certainly gives some weight to that theory:

Jones said the Senate has postponed a special session that would have been held Monday to discuss a funding package for mass transit. The meeting was rescheduled for Sept. 17, a day after the CTA's doomsday deadline for service cuts and fare hikes. Pace will also increase fares for paratransit riders on the 16th.

Read about it here.

Here's the latest out of Springfield:

A bill that would have provided millions of dollars for mass transit failed in the Illinois House today, increasing the likelihood that the CTA will go ahead with drastic service cuts and fare increases on Sept. 16. Pace would also increase fares on that date.

The bill to raise the RTA's portion of the state sales tax in Cook and the collar counties to fund transit needed 10 more votes to pass.

House Speaker Mike Madigan and other Democrats were the main supporters of the measure, but many House Republicans voted against it, citing the need for a capital plan to go along with the short-term funding mechanism set up by the bill.

What will you do?

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In less than two weeks, the CTA and Pace will raise fares and in the CTA's case, dramatically cut service, unless the state legislature provides millions in additional funding.

What will you as a CTA or Pace rider do if that happens? Do you have the option of driving? If not, what are your alternatives and how do you think the cuts and fare hikes will affect your quality of life?

About this Archive

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

August 2007 is the previous archive.

October 2007 is the next archive.

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