The Chicago Transit Authority moved on Friday to impose “devastating” cuts in service and yet another fare hike effective Jan. 6, unveiling a so-called Doomsday budget for 2008 that fully lives up to its name.Now if only this "personality clash" in Springfield can come to a conclusion. The governor apparently is threatening to lay off state troopers according to the Capitol Fax Blog. It's not getting any prettier down there.
Unless it gets more help from Springfield, the agency said it will have to eliminate an additional 43 bus routes, three of eight bus garages, lay off 1,800 more people, and raise fares at least 25 cents a ride.
Combined with other cuts that are due to take effect Nov. 4, the CTA will have eliminated roughly 20% of all service and 53% of all bus routes, leaving most areas of the city as much as a half a mile away from the nearest bus.
“The CTA does not want this budget ever to become reality,” said CTA President Ron Huberman. “This budget is about meeting our legal obligations” to present a balanced budget.
Earlier this year and last year, the CTA had pulled a fiscal punch of sorts, shifting funds and taking other financial steps to avoid immediate service cuts. But the agency no longer can do that, Mr. Huberman said. "We're out of options."
Among the 1,800 additional layoffs are those of 168 administrative workers.
The budget would eliminate what the CTA says is a $158-million hole.
While base fares would rise 25 cents, to a maximum of $3.25 per ride for rail riders, the price of CTA’s passes would rise more. For instance, the 30-day pass would go from $75 now to $84 in November and $94 in January.
Another casualty of the new budget, if implemented, will be a precedent-setting deal the CTA struck earlier this year with its employee unions to revamp its pension and health system. The deal has the potential to save the CTA $11 million a month, but automatically will die by Jan. 1 unless the General Assembly by then approves new subsidies or the unions voluntarily expand what has been a somewhat controversial arrangement, Mr. Huberman said.
There are a couple of small pieces of good news in the Doomsday budget: The CTA will preserve all of its overnight owl service, and will not shift more money from capital projects to operations. However, the latter is not voluntary. Under rules from the federal government, the CTA “has no more money to shift,” Mr. Huberman said.
The CTA board is scheduled to vote on the proposal at its November meeting after a series of public hearings. The main public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 5 at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St.
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