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Giving Up the Ghost?

By Jocelyn Geboy in Miscellaneous on Sep 10, 2007 7:20PM

We've all been talking about the CTA, their budget crisis, and what exactly will (or will not) happen if they CTA doesn't get some help from their governmental parents in the Illinois legislature. While the CTA isn't ruled by the IL government, we think this is a little like the college kid who keeps drinking hard, wasting her money, and wondering why she keeps getting into situations that don't have great consequences — thereby necessitating a few calls home for extra cash. And the CTA often acts as the parent to all its customers, having family meetings to let us all know what's going on, but just pretending to let us have a say. Seemingly, when all is said and done, all the decisions have already been made.

2007-09ctasign.jpgMaybe we'll get a little extra transportation help if Daley's Paris-inspired bike program goes through. Let's face it, though: Riding a bike in drifts of snow just isn't feasible for a lot of riders for various reasons. The governor, mayor and the Illinois legislature didn't manage to pass a bill that would have helped fund the CTA and avoid service cuts and fare hikes.

The CTA has put September 16 out as the date when said hikes and cuts would occur and have started putting posters around train stations and buses showing the proposed cuts and the money needed to help rescue the system. Down in Springfield, there are plenty of people still trying to fight to keep us at the status quo (for whatever that's worth), discussing the transit funding on Monday, Sept. 17, and encouraging the CTA to hold off a bit. However, the CTA is planning on fixing the machines to charge higher fares and apparently have their 630 layoffs all set to go.

According to the Trib article, "the CTA is set to boost cash fares from $2 to $2.50 per ride on buses and to $3 on trains during peak hours starting Sunday, then suspend service on 39 bus routes the next day. Pace, the suburban bus agency, also plans to phase in fare increases starting with some shuttle buses next week, and slash almost two dozen bus routes Oct. 7 if the funding crisis drags on. The Pace contingency plan would boost paratransit fares to a standard $3 charge, from $2.25 in Chicago and $2.50 in DuPage, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties." Word of a wheelchair protest downtown made us wonder if this was transit related, but it may have been part of an event to protest Blagovich's slashing of the budget, which knocked out monies for state home-care services. Either way, the handicapped and elderly are taking hard knocks these days.

Despite the urging of Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) to hold off on the transit slashing, CTA boss Ron Huberman said that the plan "must go forward" if the monies aren't received. "Any delay, coupled with a failure to secure additional state subsidies, would render the CTA unable to meet its December payroll and force a systemwide shutdown." We depend on the CTA for nearly all of our transportation, so we wouldn't really like to have a systemwide shutdown. Yet, there is a small, perverse side of us that would love to see it happen if only to show the bigwigs exactly what happens if the trains/buses don't run. There's been strikes in New York and London over the last decade, and it might be interesting just to see what it looks like without a public transit system (for a few days?). We think that somehow a lot of people have made the CTA out to be something auxiliary to the running of our fine city. And we would hedge our bets to say that if it were to shut down, people would realize just how important it is.

For now, we are pissed that our Chicago Card Plus that comes out of our checking account is going to be docked extra money due to the fact that our reloading only was $75, since it happened before the potential fare hike. We paid for a month, and we don't think we should get charged extra. They should at least give the monthly riders September at the same charge. Grrr.

"CTA Sign at Ashland/63rd" by Zolk.