« Parental paradox | Main | Where's Daley? Cowering »

CTA board votes 36% service cuts, small fare hike

The CTA board today voted to cut weekday service to Sunday levels -- a 36% reduction -- and raise fares by 25 cents, if the state legislature doesn't cough up $55 million more in subsidies, according to a Crain's Chicago Business report.

Some 54 bus routes will be totally eliminated, along with the Purple Line Evanston Express and other express lines. Average wait times wil rise 68% for all service.

Crain's reports: "The cuts are structured in such a way that they would particularly wallop rush-hour commuters, who would face what officials described as 'severe crowding' and waits in many cases of twice as long as today."

Click below to read the entire Crain's story. Sigh.

CTA votes 'doomsday' cuts in train, bus operations

Without bailout, 36% of weekday service, Evanston Express L will go

By Greg Hinz, April 13, 2005

Pointing a political gun at the Illinois General Assembly, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) board on Wednesday voted to slash service 36% and raise some fares unless lawmakers ride to the rescue by mid-July with a $55 million cash bailout.

The cuts are structured in such a way that they would particularly wallop rush-hour commuters, who would face what officials described as “severe crowding” and waits in many cases of twice as long as today.

“Our problem is real. It is whether the General Assembly feels public transit is important for this region,” said CTA Chairwoman Carole Brown, describing the actions as “an insurance policy” against legislative inaction.

“We had to pick a poison,” said board member Nicholas Zagotta.

Ms. Brown said she is “hopeful” the legislature will act and, indeed, state Rep. Julia Hamos, D-Evanston, chairwoman of a special House transit committee, was due to release a report today calling for more funds for public-transit in the Chicago region.

But the board action came under instant fire both for how it was approved, with a minimum of public discussion on the final plan, and for the impact it potentially will have on the city’s economy.

“The CTA has really got to go back to the drawing board,” said Jacqueline Leavy, executive director of the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group, a civic watchdog. “These cuts will still be devastating. It’s going to be a mess.”

Though the $55-million shortfall in a nearly $1 billion budget may seem manageable to some, CTA officials said it’s worse than it looks because it comes at mid-year and will not effect overall overhead much. In addition, Ms. Brown said she chose to minimize cuts in “transit dependent” poor neighborhoods, which means cuts will have to be greater elsewhere.

Specifically, barring a Springfield bailout, the board voted to reduce its weekday service to the Sunday level, with small modifications. That means 54 bus routes, which don't run on Sunday, will be totally eliminated from weekday service, including most express lines and the Purple Evanston Express L route.

Average wait times will leap 68% for all service.

Overall, CTA trains and buses will spend 36% fewer hours on the street on weekdays than they do now.

The cuts will force the CTA to lay off about 2,000 workers, mostly bus drivers and train personnel, officials said.

The impact will be more restrained on the fare side. Those who pay cash will have to put an extra 25 cents into the farebox, for a total of $2 a ride, and will not be able to purchase transfers. In addition, the basic fare on trains will go to $2 for those who use transit cards. Weekly and monthly pass rates will not change, and Chicago-Card users will see only a minor change: they’ll have to pay a minimum $20 to get a 10% discount, up from $10 now.

Wednesday’s action came amid increased signs of tension between Ms. Brown and CTA President Frank Kruesi, a long-time close associate of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s.

In one new development, CTA Inspector General AlisonPerona issued a preliminary blistering report on cost overruns on reconstruction of the Brown L Line, charging that officials failed to oversee predictable costs and were very late on such basic actions as land acquisition for the project.

Mr. Kruesi conceded mistakes were made. “We were wrong,” he said.

Ms. Brown, who has not taken Mr. Kruesi with her on recent lobbying trips to Springfield, said she is “pushing staff to be more accountable.”

Asked repeatedly if she retains confidence in senior staff, Ms. Brown replied, “The bigger issue (today) is the question of funding. I’ll do whatever I need to do to get that done.”

Comments

Oh no! A sh*tty service will get sh*ttier, if possible.

What I find particularly *funny* is the PDF file on transitchicago.com which outlines the routes slated to be cut - and claims an average of 50 customers PER HOUR on routes 122 and 123. Sorry, Charlie, but I ride that route daily, and approximately 5 minutes after any train arrives at Union Station, there's 50-75 people waiting for these two buses. And trains arrive, what, every 5-10 minutes in the morning rush?

So instead of actually getting buses that run on their alleged schedules (I'll watch 4 122's roll past before a single 123 shows up, every morning, every night), they're going to just cut the routes entirely and subject us all to an already overcrowded and underbussed 151? At least now I know why the drivers are being told by the curbside supervisors that Michigan & Wacker is no longer a valid stop!

{headbash} Guess it's time to buy some heavy-duty walking shoes and warn the bosses that I'll be late to work every single day.

I've been practicing for this by taking a lakeshore express bus, then the Montrose bus home at night. It adds about 20 minutes to my commute. I thought oh well, I could live with that. But they're going to axe the Montrose bus! So I would have to take an Irving bus over (and no Irving express anymore) and add a half miole walk to my commute.

This game of "Chicken" that the CTA Board is playing with the State Legislature is infuriating. Nice touch, cutting the purple line, so that not only are us poor shmoes who really need a quality public transportation system up in arms, but now so are the rich suburbanites. Especially classy to raise fares for seniors and students and make it harder to get a transfer. If they'd just put the kabash on that stupid plan to make cell phones usable in the tunnels, how many routes would that $14 million have saved? If they'd thought a little more carefully about the Brown line renovation, would they be weeping now about the 2000 jobs lost? It dumbfounds me how their incompetence has led to today's decision...and I know the CTA Board is just betting the state will pony up -- I'm not at all convinced.

Their biggest miscalculation aside from the State's response, as far as I can tell, is the level of support (or lack thereof) they've recieved from their riders. Sad but true, we aren't impressed by the leadership, and we're mad as hell...but stuck with what we've got.

Poor Us. Seriously.

Time to rip down any pro-CTA propaganda in the CTA trains. This is more than I can stomach.

What Christine said. I'll only add two things: 1) heads need to roll and 2) where the hell is Mayor Daley?

I don't have much to add that Cheryl and the rest haven't already said. I was braced for something bad but this is even worse than I expected. Idiots.

I'm infuriated!!!!! How in the hell can they do this? The whole board should be ousted!!! Where is Mayer Daley in all of this? If this happens, Chicago will be most definantly hurt! Just more cars into the city from Suburbs, with lost productivity included....

Christine: It's not just the "rich suburbanites" who are being screwed over by the cancellation of the Purple Line Express. Us poor college students and many, many working class people from the west and south sides reverse commute on the Purple Line... it's already a game of chance waiting for both Red and Purple Line trains at the Howard station... this is going to make it many, many times worse.

I find it funny that just a few days ago Ms. Brown was claiming that this scenario would be the least likely to pass. But I suppose that's par for the course; we were lied to about the Brown Line and now we were lied to about this. Hope she sleeps well with her cushy salary and gets home well with her nice car (because you *know* no one on the board rides the system).

>>The cuts are structured in such a way that they would particularly wallop rush-hour commuters, who would face what officials described as “severe crowding” and waits in many cases of twice as long as today.<<

Apparently they've never taken the LSD buses. I used to board regularly at Irving Park and by the time the bus got to Belmont, there would be no less than 20 people waiting to get on a bus that could squeeze on 5 or 6, on a good day. Would those people end up waiting 30, 40, 50 minutes for a bus they could FIT ON under this plan? How could you ever guess how long it would take to get to work?

That's of course the local weeday commuting route I'm used to. I can't even imagine what it would be like for those in areas where routes were completely slashed. I wonder in all this: Who is really at fault? How has this money been mismanaged so? How have they let it get this bad? I'm thoroughly disgusted. Actually disgusted doesn't even begin to cover it.

because you *know* no one on the board rides the system

Funny you should mention that, Nick. A few years ago the Sun-Times published a couple of articles on how often the CTA board and top execs actually used the system, and I often think back to them when I'm raging about the CTA. The articles weren't pretty:


"Yet, some CTA board members use public transit very little, if at all, a report obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times indicates.

"My fellow board members were quite chagrined to see the numbers," said veteran board member J. Douglas Donenfeld, who uses the system regularly, more than anyone else on the seven-member panel."

--Robert C. Herguth, "CTA board rarely on bus, L," Chicago Sun-Times, December 16, 2002.

----

"More CTA executives, including other vice presidents, sometimes went entire months without using their passes, or they used them just a few times over the course of a month, the report shows.

The document mirrors another one obtained recently by the Sun-Times showing many CTA board members--the political appointees whose decisions can have tremendous impact on when, where and how buses and trains operate--use the system infrequently. One board member, former Daley aide Victor Reyes, never used his free passes, that report found, although he insisted he took the L on weekends and paid his own way.

...

"Kruesi and friend Tim Degnan, brother of Robert Degnan, are among the mayor's confidants. Earlier this year Kruesi hired Robert Degnan, Daley's then-commissioner of fleet management, creating a brand new, well-paid position for him, even as the CTA's financial outlook was worsening."

--Robert C. Herguth, "Many CTA execs seldom ride transit," Chicago Sun-Times, December 31, 2002.


Anyone else think we should FOIA another set of reports?

i have a cousin who works in the cta marketing department. she admitted she doesn't take the el or the bus at all. and she makes good money there.

How do these execs get to work? Drive? I think a little barricade of the parking garage might be in order.

...and with the price of oil going up the way it is, it's almost unaffordable to drive too. Nice going CTA, damn morons.

Sorry, Nick...didn't mean to imply that only the Richy Riches are hurt by the purple line cut. I know that lots of students and others also rely on the Purple Line.

It was more intended to be a comment on how blatantly OBVIOUS it is that the CTA Board had created a plan that is designed to get as many patrons with influence raging against the plan and complaining to the State Legislature to fix the problem. The northside rush hour white collar types are obviously another target of this plan (plot?). (And lest I be accused of prejudice against such types, let it be said that I am one of them.)

It is interesting to me the amount of money and effort that the CTA has pumped into trying to goad its patrons to do its dirty work. So far it hasn't worked the way they intended...one of many gross and foolish miscalculations about the level of faith the CTA riders have in this system and the amount of manipulation we will stand for.

But the CTA is not solely to blame here. The City needs to pony up some bucks, obviously. The State needs to do the same. But it seems like all the governing bodies who have any control over this situation are either to stubborn, too stupid or too bureaucratically mired to see this for the real tragedy that it is for the people of Chicago. It will have real and devastating economic and environmental impact if this plan goes into play. And perhaps someone should think about restructuring the leadership in charge of OUR public transportation system. If I did such a bad job where I work, my @$$ would have been grass a long time ago.

Back to my white collared-ness. I am someone who elects to take the CTA because I don't want to add to the pollution in our city by driving a car around when there is public transportation where I live. But I can afford the car and I will buy the car if this plan comes to pass, my convictions and beliefs be damned. I know I am one of many people who would be forced to make such a choice, because I don't have hours and hours to spend on an el platform, waiting for a train to take me to work while the valuable hours of my life are drained away. I'm lucky. I can make this choice.

But the people who will really be hurt by this insane plan are the people who can't afford to make such a choice -- the college students, the working people who scrape by on what they earn. They don't have the luxury of deciding to take another route. They will pay a dear price for the hubris of those we have entrusted to make decisions in the best interests of their constituents....and they all have failed us miserably.

But the people who will really be hurt by this insane plan are the people who can't afford to make such a choice -- the college students, the working people who scrape by on what they earn. They don't have the luxury of deciding to take another route. They will pay a dear price for the hubris of those we have entrusted to make decisions in the best interests of their constituents....and they all have failed us miserably.

Well said and exactly my situation...

Why should the state & local governments give money to a group of arrogant, incompetent fools. That is the flaw which is the heart of this argument. Create a disaster by defering what is necessary and pursueing the stupid. Tell people you know how to fix it, isong their money, because you let the disaster happen. See any reason why those at the head of the CTA shouldn't be trusted?

Unfortunately, the losers are us. Frank's job will just get easier and easier - less riders means less work. Maybe he'll figure out how to work from home since his commute just seems to keep getting worse & worse.

I repeat. Arrgh.

Let me preface this by saying that I'm very upset by the proposed cuts. I'm a grad student without a car and with a very limited budget, and the cuts will have a significant impact on me.

But, that being said, I do think that the plan that was approved was by far the best of a bad set of options.

It does seem as though this set of cuts does the best job of minimizing the impact on people who can't afford either alternate means of transportation or a significant fair hike. The 25 cent raise in cash fares seems fairly manageable, and they're maintaining 24-hour service, which plenty of people use to get to work.

Christine, you may be right that this is part of a cynical ploy to get rush hour commuters (who, on average are wealthier and have more clout than people commuting to work overnight shifts, etc.) to exert more pressure on the legislature. And I don't like the way the CTA board is playing politics with all of this. But, much as I hate to admit it, I think Brown was right that this package is the one least likely to hurt people whose choices are limited.

I'd be interested to hear others' views on this, though. Which of the doomsday plans did you think was the least bad?

I was seriously considering moving back to Chicago... now I'm not so sure. My work causes me to have irregular hours, sometimes very late into the night and I relied on CTA, especially the redline and the owl service on Clark.

Any suggestions who I can write/e-mail to voice my disappointment in the CTA? Where has all the money gone, and to what? When I was there my $1.50/1.75 didn't seem to be going towards service, scheduling or maintanence. I couldn't imagine it being worse, but I guess they are going to try to prove me wrong.

I'd be interested to hear others' views on this, though. Which of the doomsday plans did you think was the least bad?

My honest answer is none of the above, but if I had to pick, it would probably have been the Gridlock + Fare Increase option... it preserves most of the rush hour service with only a slight increase in fares (again just up to $2.00). My only reservations about that would be the hits to owl service, but at least most of the routes were salvaged during the day.

This sucks! I always preferred taking the CTA because it used to be affordable and I could get where I had to go. I didn't have to deal with a car--parking tickets, insurance, maintenance, gas etc. I'd like to get a car, but I'm also a grad student (like another poster mentioned above). I work part-time and as much as I want a car, I don't think I could handle all those payments now. Plus I haven't even learned how to drive yet. Arrrrrggggghhhh!!!

I wonder how much they spent on those new bus shelters?

I wonder how much they spent on those new bus shelters?

Not sure, but I'm guessing those came out of capital funds, which are currently abundant (or so we're led to believe) and not the operating funds, which pay for service.

Not sure, but I'm guessing those came out of capital funds, which are currently abundant (or so we're led to believe) and not the operating funds, which pay for service.

The bus shelters are part of a deal with the city. CTA is not involved. JCDecaux was the winning bidder to supply the shelters. They are responsible for all costs associated with installing and maintaing the shelters (minus electricity). What's in it for them? Advertising dollars, some of which is shared with the city. The deal is expected to net bring in $300 million over the next 20 years.

Ah! Now if they'd only structured the tunnel cell-phone project that way...

Is it just me, or are these proposed cuts part of a larger trend to "suburbanize" Chicago as much as possible?

I've been in Chicago for ten years, and as the city has gotten more gentrified, more and more condo developments have been marketed to suburban commuters, and as these suburban commuters have become urban condo dwellers, they've brought their suburban values with them.

The affluent suburbanite does NOT want to ride public transit. I remember reading about a Lakeview community meeting last year where a woman was complaining about the fact that she needed permit parking on her street due to the congestion around Wrigley Field. She complained about the fact that she and her husband had to alternate use of their garage space, as both of them had cars and the garage space was only large enough for one car. This woman lived three blocks from an el stop, and her husband worked in the Loop!!

Part of the appeal of living in a city like Chicago is that you don't HAVE to own two cars. A couple can get by with one, and, quite possibly, none.

As the years have gone by I have seen new restaurants open that aren't quite as daring as ones opening before, bars like "Tuman's Alcohol Abuse Center" renamed to the shorter "Tuman's", and an "American steakhouse-grill" open in Logan Square. Do people really move to the city to get exactly what they can get in the suburbs?

The people making the decisions regarding CTA funding have no appreciation for the urban experience. And if they don't appreciate it, they won't fund it.

If these service cuts are implemented, Chicago will just become a larger, more congested version of the smaller cities that surround it, like Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Saint Louis. And all of those cities are cheaper to live in. Long story short, the Chicago nightlife is starting to suck, the visual and performing arts cultures are being eroded by excessive condo development, and now the proposed service cuts will take Chicago-area transit back to the Stone Age. Implementing these service cuts will give me, and many other people, one less reason to live here.

Other cities would KILL to have a mass transit system like Chicago's. Saint Louis is busy building and expanding its "Metro-Link" light-rail system, which from all appearances will rival the extensiveness of Chicago's el system when completed. Oh, and it's 75 cents cheaper than the el.

Has anyone considered what service cuts PACE will implement as a result of the CTA cuts? CTA and PACE feed each other, so if there's less CTA there will most likely be less PACE.

Why hasn't anyone been fired because of all of this?

this isn't something that will help the cta it will hurt them because people won't want to ride them anymore and when they do the busses will be crowded and what will they do then. The city has millions of dollars to build a dumb ass park (millenium park) and they don't have any money to help what people really care about?

I have a small , but growing company that deals with snow and ice removal, and I was wondering if JC DECAUX does they"re own removal of snow and ice around the shelters?

The comments to this entry are closed.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451c39e69e200e5505281628833

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference CTA board votes 36% service cuts, small fare hike:

» somethin's gotta give from This Surreal Life
aaaaaaaaaaaaah! [Read More]

» The CTA gets even worse from a prairie web companion
This is making me miss the public transportation in Manhattan even more... "Pointing a political gun at the Illinois General Assembly, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) board on Wednesday voted to slash service 36% and raise some fares unless... [Read More]

» CTA postures, threatens to slash service and the Purple Line; I vent from jotsheet
I hate stupid decisions. I hate bureaucratic inefficiencies. But what I really hate is stupid decisions made by bureaucracies. Do you ever feel like bursting into the administrative offices of a stupid bureaucracy sporting full camo gear, a paintgun, a... [Read More]

» Faced With High Gas Prices, Bush And House GOP Leaders Seek To Increase Cost At Pump from WurfWhile
It sounds like a joke. Today's New York Times has an article titled "Bush Concedes Energy Bill Offers No Help on Gas Prices" (not available in weblog-safe link). The article describes the U.S. House Republican $8 billion version of President... [Read More]

» CTA postures, threatens to slash service and the Purple Line; I vent from jotsheet
I hate stupid decisions. I hate bureaucratic inefficiencies. But what I really hate is stupid decisions made by bureaucracies. Do you ever feel like bursting into the administrative offices of a stupid bureaucracy sporting full camo gear, a paintgun, a... [Read More]

Share news tips

Elsewhere