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The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

The CTA, suspensions of service, fare hikes, and you.

June5

Those of you who live in Chicago are probably aware that the CTA (and mass transit in general) is woefully underfunded and has been operating at a deficit. The CTA is once again proposing fare increases and service reductions.

In addition to the in-house changes (elimination of positions, reductions in wage, tinkering with benefits and retirement packages), the following changes have been suggested as necessary for the CTA to continue operating:
Under the plan recommended by Huberman, only routes that currently operate on Sundays would be retained.

Service would be suspended on 63 bus routes, but the remaining 91 routes would continue to operate at current levels.

Rail service would be suspended on the Purple Express rush hour service and on the Yellow Line. All other rail routes, including the Purple Line, would operate at current service levels.
Fare increases for individual rides would range from 25 cents to $1.25, depending on the time and mode of travel.

Rail fares would be priced higher than bus fares.
Higher fares would be charged during rush periods. $2.75 for bus. $3.25 for rail.
In off-peak hours, cash fares would rise to $2.25 for bus and $2.50 for rail.
Transfers would double from 25 cents to 50 cents.
Prices for unlimited ride passes would increase an average of 63%
You can read more about this here: http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=115293

Here’s an itemized list of service suspensions: http://transitchicago.com/news/motion/board/0705routecuts.pdf

There will be four hearings, giving you, the consumer and commuter, chance to comment on what’s going on and here the whole plan. I took the dates, locations, and times from here: http://transitchicago.com/news/whatsnew2.wu?action=displaynewspostingdetail&articleid=111532

Tuesday, June 5, 6:30 p.m.
Sherman Park Fieldhouse
1301 W. 52nd Street
Chicago, IL 60609

Wednesday, June 6, 6:30 p.m.
Michelle’s Ballroom
2800 W. Belmont Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618

Monday, June 11, 6:30 p.m.
University of Illinois at Chicago
Student Center East
750 S. Halsted, Room 302
Chicago, IL 60607

Wednesday, June 13, 9:00 a.m.
CTA Headquarters
567 W. Lake, Chicago, IL 60661

I’ll be at the June 11 UIC one if anyone cares to join me. Maybe we can get dinner or something before or after.

I take the CTA every single week day to get to and from work, and also use it to shop and visit people. This very much affects me, and I have a feeling it affects a lot of you guys as well.

If you want to contact state legislators in the easiest way possible, go here: http://www.savechicagolandtransit.com/actnow.asp and fill out the forms. You can send and email and a fax with the click of a button. Make your voice heard!

posted under cta
5 Comments to

“The CTA, suspensions of service, fare hikes, and you.”

  1. On June 5th, 2007 at 10:32 am Sara Says:

    You might like to bring up one of my favorite arguments for funding public transit: we don’t expect highways to pay for themselves, why do we expect public transit to be self-funding?

    It’s hardly fair to subsidize auto-related transport but not (environmentally superior) public transit….

  2. On June 5th, 2007 at 10:54 am Brigid Says:

    Especially as public transit can move more people, more quickly, for less money.

    I mean, I could spend $3 per gallon gas, drive downtown, and spend $12-20 on a parking garage… OR I could spend $2 for the train. HM! WHAT A HARD CHOICE! Especially as rush hour traffic can take up to three hours to go that fifteen miles, while on the train it’s about 45 minutes.

  3. On June 6th, 2007 at 10:31 pm Mark Says:

    The CTA never seems to change. Executives at the CTA always offer “public hearings” whenever they’re thinking of making changes which will hurt a lot of people. Only the naive or inexperienced think that they actually care what people have to say at those hearings.

    Back in the nineties, Robert Belcaster (who was President of the CTA at the time) announced that the CTA was going to completely eliminate its passes and just have everybody pay regular transit fare in the form of currency or tokens.

    I thought that getting rid of all of the CTA passes was a horrible idea. I wrote to Robert Belcaster I and told him so. As I recall, his office wrote back to me, thanking me for my feedback. Then the CTA held public hearings concerning the issue. I attended the one held at Truman College. The meeting room was packed. A lot of people were angry. One of the themes heard time and time again during that meeting was that people did not want the passes to be eliminated.

    After the meeting, I spoke with Mr. Belcaster. He remembered the letter I’d sent to him. He told me that they were going to eliminate the passes anyway. I was amazed. Here I had been naive enough to think that the public hearings might actually influence the CTA’s decision making process. But Robert Belcaster’s comment made it obvious that it was all just for show. CTA management didn’t really care what the public thought. They were going to do what they wanted to do, regardless of what the public thought about it. The public hearings were nothing but a bad joke.

    It wasn’t long after that that the CTA did in fact eliminate its passes, for a while. But eventually, they brought back the passes, presumably because they eventually figured out that it was a really stupid thing to get rid of them in the first place.

    According to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, “Daley promptly dumped CTA chairman Robert Belcaster in 1996 when it was disclosed that Belcaster had bought stock in a firm that was doing business with the CTA.”

    Apparently, conflicts of interest were taken seriously, but completely ignoring the voices of the riders whose fares helped to fund the CTA was considered to be acceptable.

    But that’s the attitude a lot of folks from the CTA take, even to this day. They think that because the CTA is partially funded with subsidies, they are therefore justified in treating riders as if they are unimportant. They don’t seem to grasp the facts of the situation. Without riders, there would be no subsidies. Without subsidies, they would have no jobs.

    Furthermore, if the CTA could be solely funded through subsidies, what could the justification for fare increases possibly be? Riders may not directly pay the entirety of the salaries paid to CTA executives and employees, but riders do pay a substantial portion of those salaries. Riders therefore deserve to be taken seriously. Sadly, people don’t always get what they deserve.

    My suggestion? Don’t waste your time or money going to the CTA hearings. But do send them e-mail messages letting them know that you are sick and tired of so-called public servants who have no interest in hearing what the public has to say.

    The CTA’s current line with regard to its proposed fare increases and service cuts is that such a move is “tragically necessary”.

    Yeah, right.

    I’ll believe that they are serious about doing everything they can do to avoid the need for such draconian measures when all of the CTA executives and all of the CTA’s overpaid and needlessly surly drivers take voluntary pay cuts in order to minimize the need for fare increases and service cuts.

    Will that ever happen? Probably not.

  4. On June 6th, 2007 at 10:33 pm Mark Says:

    Oops. Regarding Robert Belcaster, I meant to write, “and I told him so”, not “I and told him so”. It’s been a long and tiring day.

  5. On June 7th, 2007 at 9:11 am Brigid Says:

    Mark, thanks for taking the time to read my post and leave a response.

    I work about a block away from one of the hearings, so it won’t cost my any extra money, and I’ve never been to one of these before. I’m interested in what goes on, if nothing else.

    Even if the CTA doesn’t directly listen to the people who take the time to show up to one of the hearings, showing up sends a message both to the CTA and to legislators that people are actively interested in public transit and what’s going on with it.