Chicago Sun-Times

In other news: Blue Line slow zones will be gone by next year, CTA says

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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.

The contract award to Kiewit-Reyes would replace deteriorated track ties and fasteners that force trains to operate at reduced speeds.

The CTA is funding the work by issuing bonds against future federal funds. Huberman said federal guidelines would have prohibited the CTA from using these bond proceeds to plug the agency’s $110 million funding shortfall.

In other action, the CTA board also approved a contract for up to $2 million to rent an ultrasonic track testing vehicle on an annual basis for the next five years. The vehicle detects fractures and cracks in the rail like the ones that contributed to last year's Blue Line derailment.

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I know what you mean about CTA employee's taking advantage of their cushy job -- while it lasts.

As we've seen all over the place, the CTA is in a death spiral. They have hundreds of millions of dollars of pension and retiree health obligations as a result of the unions collective bargaining, and no way to pay.

At the same time, we see these union employees -- especially the customer service representatives at the train stations -- reading the paper, or even SLEEPING. They certainly don't offer help to customers in need, and they don't even respond to the "Customer assistance is needed on the platform" announcements.

I wish there was some way to hold these people accountable. Fire them or outsource their jobs to someone who will actually do the job. Heck, replacing them with a simple emergency telephone and some security cameras would be a big improvement.

I wish they would sell the CTA to a private company. I know big corporations are far from perfect, but do you think a company like Crate and Barrel, Kraft, or McDonald's would provide such consistently bad service?

I am so tired of the CTA, I wish a company would step forward and bankrupt them. Where else can you have a six figure salary job with a GED. It is unbelievable how top heavy they are. They need to cut from the top, and put a cap on who they allow to drive their fleet of cars. I know somebody who works for CTA in a six figure position and said the gas was to high to drive her vehicle, so she parked it and drive a CTA vehicle because they pay for the gas. The CTA is a joke I believe if they eliminate 150 $100+ jobs they would come up with their short-fall.

The people of the State of Illinois keep calling on our legislators to fix the mass transit funding problems, an issue that affects people across the state. Countless numbers of passengers rely on this system for their day-to-day transit needs. But as legislators have shown, the cries of their constituents mean nothing in the great State of Illinois, a state that ranks 48th out of 50 in the nation for education funding, a state that receives a failing grade from Education Week, a state that under-funds its schools and compromises educational quality.
For 30 years, organizations and individuals have worked to get the legislature to fix the school funding problem and reduce the property tax burden to homeowners. But the issue continues to be ignored. Whether it is school children or transit riders, the politicians in this state do not care. Backroom deals and petty political games seem more important than solving real problems. This year, the legislature once again passed a limited growth budget without adding any new revenue streams. How do you pay for programs if you don’t have adequate revenue? The answer is, you can’t.
But if we continue to reward our legislators—who can’t seem to find ways to provide such basics as a suitable education and mass transit for its citizens—by re-electing them to office each term, there is no incentive for change. Come next election, it’s time for Illinois citizens to talk in the only way its politicians might hear—at the voting booth. It’s time for a sweeping change.

Gary Dolinko
Neighbors for Strong Schools
A+ Illinois North Cook Steering Committee
Member of Better Funding for Better Schools

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This page contains a single entry by Monifa Thomas published on September 12, 2007 5:44 PM.

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