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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?

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.

Well, the one-day CTA walkout that would have made for a very interesting Monday morning commute has been called off. For now, anyway.

It seems God is in the details, because the CTA's unions agreed to back down after being approached by a coalition of ministers who urged them to reconsider.

The pastors rightly argued that lawmakers in Springfield aren't the ones who would have been hurt by the walkout (since very few of them seem to take public transportation anyway). Rather, everyday people who rely on public transportation would have gotten the short end of the stick, which they still might if the transit funding stalemate isn't resolved.

Stay tuned.

Fed up with stalled negotiations in Springfield over mass transit funding, members of the CTA’s rail union plan to stage a one-day “job action” that would begin midnight Sunday, union officials said Thursday.

Tired of "doomsday"?

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I haven't been on the transportation beat all that long, but in that time, I must have used the word "doomsday" dozens of times in stories to describe the CTA's (and now Metra and Pace's) near-annual threats to cut service and raise fares if they don't get more money from the state.

Given the sorry state of affairs in Springfield lately, we in the media will probably still be writing that story months, if not years, down the line.

With that in mind, is there a better word out there than "doomsday" to describe what's going on?

Share your thoughts here.

Before a vote on a transit funding plan that ultimately failed in the Illinois House, Governor Blagojevich left the Capitol early to attend a Chicago Blackhawks game. Talk about bad timing.

Now the governor is taking heat from state lawmakers who were called into a special session yesterday to try to hammer out an agreement on funding for the CTA, Metra and Pace.

Our Springfield reporter Dave McKinney has the story.

Should they do it anyway?

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This morning, Gov. Blagojevich offered the CTA and Pace $27 million in grants to keep both agencies running through the end of the year and delay fare hikes and service cuts set to take effect on Sunday.

The CTA and RTA have tentatively agreed to accept the bailout, as long as the Federal Transit Administration approves the infusion of capital dollars.

Unlike the first one, this bailout is a grant, not a loan, the governor says.

My question to you is, should the CTA and Pace go ahead with the cuts anyway, to force the General Assembly to finally make a decision on long-term transit funding? Or should they just take the money and save millions of transit riders the headache?


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