Chicago Sun-Times

January 2008 Archives

Even with the mass transit funding bailout passed last week, thousands of disabled transit riders who use
Pace paratransit will still be hit with higher fares beginning Feb. 1, when the cost of the ADA monthly
pass doubles to $150.

The increase angers paratransit users who feel their needs weren’t addressed in the $535 million bailout
bill that kept the CTA and Pace from going ahead with drastic “doomsday” service cuts and fare increases.

Adding insult to injury, they say, was Governor Blagojevich’s surprise move to allow seniors to ride mass transit for free.

What's the big deal?

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The CTA is ordering hundreds of new rail cars that will likely have New York-style aisle-facing seats. The seating configuration creates more aisle space and makes it easier for passengers to get on and off.

But for some reason, many Chicagoans hate the idea.

How come? Does facing your fellow rider make it that much harder to ignore them or something?

The Regional Transportation Authority is seeking suggestions on how to improve transit options for people with disabilities, older adults and reverse commuters.

If you've got a good idea for a capital or operating project that would make the CTA, Metra and/or Pace more efficient while not duplicating existing service, you can apply for federal grant money to make that idea happen.

The RTA is accepting applications for two federal grants worth a combined $6.5 million. One is the Job Access Reverse Commute Program, which focuses on improving transit for low-income and reverse commuters. The other, the New Freedom Program, seeks to add new public transportation options for people with disabilities.

More information will be available at a Jan. 30 open house at the RTA's headquarters, 175 West Jackson Blvd, Suite 1550, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can also download a grant application at

All applications are due by 4 p.m. on March 20.

The transit funding package finally passed the House and Senate yesterday. Are you relieved that it's over, angry that it took so long or all of the above?

There's still one question left, which is whether the City Council will pass the 40 percent increase in the real estate transfer tax that's part of the transit bailout.

And then there's the issue of capital money for Chicago-area transit, which isn't addressed in the bill that passed the General Assembly this week.

So, this definitely won't be the last time the CTA, Metra and Pace head to Springfield asking for more money.

But at least for now, we can retire the word doomsday. Anyone else as happy about that as I am?

The Illinois House on Thursday approved a mass transit funding package that would avert Jan. 20 service cuts and fare hikes at the CTA and Pace.

Governor Blagojevich has already included language in the transit funding bill that allow seniors 65 and up to ride the CTA, Metra and Pace for free. Now, he's talking about putting a provision in the next state budget that would do the same for people with disabilities.

Think this is a good idea, or will it put an undue burden on the transit agencies to make up for the lost revenue? The CTA said it could be out at least $20 million a year providing free rides to seniors, and for Metra, it'll cost $8 million to $10 million.

Speaking of Metra, officials there announced yesterday that they're still planning to go ahead with a 10 percent fare hike on Feb. 1, even if the transit funding package is passed by the General Assembly.

Share your thoughts.

This just in from Dave McKinney, our Springfield Bureau chief:

The Illinois Legislature approved a hike in the sales tax for Cook and the collar counties and a higher tax on real estate transactions in Chicago today, moving a mass transit bailout package to Gov. Blagojevich's desk.

The proposal passed the Senate 30-25 after having failed there late Wednesday night by one vote.

The legislation passed the House 62-51.

Whenever the CTA threatens to raise fares or cut service, like it's doing now, one of the most common questions riders ask is how much CTA employees make.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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February 2008 is the next archive.

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