Sunday, October 03, 2004


Not too long ago, a senior manager from Dallas once said that SEPTA was a "trailblazer" when it came to rail planning, despite the fact that the Regional Rail system is the laughing stock of the entire country. Apparently, the "trailblazer" part is relevant...

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Transit Authority is planning similar extortion type tactics that SEPTA is taking if the Illinois legislature doesn't improve funding for the CTA, which is one of three agencies under the jurisdiction of the Northeast Illinois Regional Transportation Authority (the other two agencies are the PACE suburban bus system and the Metra regional rail system).

The CTA's proposed doomsday budget would slice service by 20 percent, eliminate all overnight L trains, kill 30 bus routes and cut 1,000 union workers, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Aldermen [Chicago's version of City Council - ed.] Thursday got advance warning of bombshell threats to limit service. The cuts would reduce bus service hours by 21 percent by taking 415 buses off the street, shorten nine bus routes, and slice L service hours by 11 percent.

"People will have to wait longer and be in more crowded trains and buses and it's going to create a hardship for everyone," said Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who sat in on the briefings. "It will bring more people out of trains on to the roads, increasing traffic congestion. Everyone in Chicago and the surrounding region is going to be touched by this."

Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th) said he's afraid service cuts, specifically the elimination of the Lincoln Avenue bus, could cripple business in his North Side ward.

"It is the heart of our commercial area. If you take that away, you make it impossible for people to go shopping and take advantage of our cultural venues," he said. "This would be absolutely horrific . . . to every ward in the city."

Night owl service on all bus lines would be cut from twice to once an hour between 1 a.m. and 4 am. And all-night L trains -- including the Blue Line to O'Hare Airport -- would be no more.

Red and Blue line service between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. would be eliminated. Overnight service suspension on the Brown and Orange lines would increase from three to seven hours -- 10 p.m. to 5 a.m, sources said.

"We have to see if these numbers are real -- that they are not crying wolf," Moore said. "The effect will create a great hardship . . . a lot of people work second and third shift."

Facing a $77 million budget deficit, CTA boss Frank Kruesi has warned state lawmakers they must come up with more cash for Chicago area transit in the fall veto session or face the service consequences. CTA staff has drafted two budgets, one showing more money from Springfield and one that does not.

Regardless of General Assembly action, Kruesi said, he will propose eliminating 200 administrative and management jobs, replacing some L station customer service agents with security guards and changing how bus fare boxes are collected to save $13 million.

Both budgets also include an additional $9 million in new revenue from a string of rate increases that sources say include:

* Doubling the fee for paratransit and taxi access program for
the disabled from $1.75 to $3.50;
* boosting parking fees by 25 cents to $3;
* raising U-Pass rates by a dime to 70 cents.

Without additional funding, the remaining $55 million budget gap will be bridged by the drastic service cuts, sources said.

But if lawmakers come through with an additional $82.5 million for the CTA, bus and rail riders can expect "service
enhancements,'' Kruesi said.

The $1.75 base fare for a CTA ride will not increase.

CTA officials next month also plan to seek proposals for a contractor to conduct a complete review of the agency's administrative and operational procedures.
Chicago Sun-Times


The CTA's bad-news budget would cut service by about 20 percent. Trims

  • Eliminating 30 bus routes.
  • 21.5 percent reduction in bus service hours with 415 fewer buses on the
  • 11 percent reduction in rail service hours.
  • Eliminating 21 weekend bus routes and shortening 9 other
  • Cutting service on the Red and Blue lines between 1 and 4 a.m., and on
    the Brown and Orange lines from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

At least the CTA is letting its riders know that if they get extra funding from the state, they plan on improving service; to this point, we have heard no such promise from Fearless Leader or the rest of the Rotating Resumes at 1234 Market.

Oh well. At least the Iggles beat the Bears (but, boy was that an ugly win)...

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