Thursday, May 24, 2007

CTA lays out el, bus cuts; moves to hike fares

The rumbling has been there so let's put it out there. CTA may have to make some cuts in order to continue operating. The last time this happened, the state of Illinois bailed the CTA out. The way things are looking in Springfield, I would be surprised if the CTA got the money they needed.

This story is from Crain's...
Under the proposal unveiled by newly installed CTA President Ron Huberman, single-ride fares would leap to as much as $3.25 a trip during rush hours, and the cost of a monthly pass would rise 63% to $122. Service on 63 bus lines — those which currently do not operate on Sundays — would be suspended, as would the Skokie Swift and Evanston Express trains.

Draconian as those measures are, they could have been worse. Mr. Huberman’s plan proposes to fill half of a $110-million hole in the CTA’s 2007 budget by shifting $56.9 million from maintenance on buses and el train cars to operations, an expedient he conceded could not continue long.

Mr. Huberman said the cuts and fare hikes will have to be implemented around mid-September unless the Illinois General Assembly approves one of several pending plans to boost aid to the CTA, Metra and Pace. Absent those plans or a legislative bailout, the CTA “would be out of business in October, unable to make payroll,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Regional Transportation Authority on Thursday proposed to solve the crisis by authorizing new taxes that would raise $400 million a year. Included would be a quarter-cent sales tax in the six-county RTA region and a 0.3% real estate transfer tax in Chicago.

Mr. Huberman, who succeeded Frank Kruesi as CTA boss just a month ago, termed his proposal “painful” but says the CTA has little room to maneuver, given that it now is nearly halfway into its budget year and was counting on an additional $110 million in public aid this year.

“After careful analysis, I am recommending the approach I believe most fairly distributes the impact on our customers,” Mr. Huberman said. “Of all the options available to us, this plan puts the least direct burden on our riders.”

Hmmm perhaps those of us rides on public transit needs to get on our leaders about getting the state to bail out the CTA. Hopefully at the same time CTA will manage it's money better.

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