Chicago Sun-Times

October 2007 Archives

The clock is ticking

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There's still not much happening in Springfield on the transit funding front, which increases the likelihood that the CTA and Pace will be forced to cut service and raise fares this weekend.

What, if anything, have you done to prepare for doomsday?

Metra unveiled its proposed budget for next year, which involves raising fares by at least 5 percent in 2008, followed by 10 percent increases in 2009 and 2010, if the General Assembly doesn't come through with new funding.

The agency has a $40 million deficit for next year.

Screeners for the Transportation Security Administration failed to notice fake bombs 60 percent of the time at O'Hare Airport last year. Los Angeles Airport (LAX) was even worse, with bombs passing by screeners 75 percent of the time, according to a classified report obtained by USA Today.

The TSA says the high failure rates stem from "increasingly difficult covert tests that require screeners to find bomb parts the size of a pen cap," the USA Today story said.

But critics argued that terrorists intent on blowing up a plane will use tactics just as sneaky to get explosives past security, and that screeners should be ready.

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) said he is calling for a conference with federal security officials to discuss training at O'Hare.


The CTA says it will put protective barriers on its buses to separate drivers from passengers who may try to attack them. CTA drivers have long complained about the dangers of driving a bus, particularly in areas outside of the Loop where police officers are less likely to ride buses in plainclothes or uniform.

A recent attack on a driver on the No. 12 Roosevelt route highlights the problem.

You now have until the end of the year to get one of the CTA's "smart" cards free of charge before proposed doomsday fare hikes take effect.

The CTA is waiving the $5 fee to obtain a Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus until Dec. 31, to give riders more time to switch to electronic fare cards.

The CTA is holding three public meetings on its proposed 2008 budget, which involves cutting 43 bus routes in addition to the 39 that would be cut on Nov. 4.

Meeting dates are: Oct. 30 at Lane Tech College Prep, 2501 W. Addison; Nov. 1 at Percy Julian High School, 10330 S. Elizabeth; and Nov. 5 at the CTA’s headquarters, 567 W. Lake. All meetings start at 6 p.m.

The CTA board will likely vote on the proposed $1 billion budget at its Nov. 7 meeting.

The agency is facing a $158 million deficit for 2008, fueled by growing pension and healthcare obligations, lower state subsidies and the lack of capital money that has been used in the past to pay for operations, the CTA says.

The massive reconstruction project on the Dan Ryan Expy. is scheduled to be complete by the end of the month, if the weather cooperates. That's great news for drivers who have spent the last 18 and a half months fighting traffic on the expressway, dealing with parking restrictions on the alternate routes or trying to get around using public transit.

So what's been your coping strategy to deal with construction on the Dan Ryan? Are you leaving for work at different times, taking alternate routes or just cursing the Illinois Department of Transportation for ruining your life? I'm especially interested in hearing from business owners along alternates such as Stony Island and Ashland, since I'm sure those rush-hour parking restrictions aren't helping the bottom line.

It's been a little over a week since major lane closings took effect on the Edens Expy. The closings, needed for concrete patching between Lawrence and Lake Cook Road, are expected to last until Nov. 4.

Has your commute been affected? If so, how? This question is open not just to people who take the Edens regularly, but also users of the Kennedy Expy, the Tri-State Tollway and Metra, since those are the most likely alternatives.

IDOT's Minutemen -- those roadside rescuers in the neon green tow trucks -- helped more than 88,000 stranded motorists in the fist six months of 2007, up 17 percent from the same period last year.

The guys in the red jumpsuits respond to just about every type of emergency on the city's expressways, from flat tires to overturned semis. They also get a bird's eye view into some of the weird things people do in their cars when they think no one is looking. You can read more about them in today's Ride.

Speaking of roadside emergencies, what's the worst one you've had on a Chicago area highway or street, and how did you get out of it?

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

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