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Sometimes, We Feel As Though This Will Never End

By Jocelyn Geboy in Miscellaneous on Sep 14, 2007 5:09PM

Wednesday, some of you were upset at the thought of a short-term solution to the CTA's ongoing budget crisis. We were upset at the thought of bus lines being cut, fares being raised and people losing their jobs just because the legislature couldn't give the transit budget deficit one more serious consideration. We said we think it would be a good idea for the CTA to take the $24 million dollars that the governor offered up as a temporary stop-gap. We do think it's very strange that the CTA is being temporarily bailed out by Governor Blagoevich, the same man who slashed and burned the budget, leaving out the CTA. However, while we'd like to see fares and service remain the same, we now are thinking a little better of this money.

2007_09ctalady.jpgYesterday, CTA's top officials took a $24 million funding advance to help the situation ... sort of. It will only avert the "doomsday scenario" until November. Clearly, something more substantial needs to be done. The RTA also needs to approve the measure today. CTA Board President Carole Brown said the plan will "give the legislature more time to craft a long-term funding solution for the region." The question remains to see if they will. Even if approval goes through, Nov. 4 becomes the new doomsday. Worse yet, this money isn't money Blagojevich found somewhere in the budget. It's only a loan of sorts of the state's contribution to the CTA in 2008. Oh. That's no good.

CTA President Ron Huberman is sticking to his guns and saying that unless the legislature comes up with the original $110 million, the contigency plan (which is the raise fares, cut service plan) will still happen, lest the CTA not meet its December payroll, which would "force a systemwide shutdown." Despite Huberman's resistance to taking the money, he said in a CBS2 story that “I was on the bus the other day and I was talking to a high school student…” Huberman said. “He now has to walk through a gang territory to get to his bus once these cuts are implemented.” So, hopefully he understands the gravity of what we're talking about here. PACE paratransit won't be included in the $24 million and so will definitely get fares raised.

Upon hearing this news, we are concerned yet again. According to the Tribune, Illinois hasn't had a capital-improvement program in four years. However, despite the lack of funds, the CTA has approved a $91.2 million contract to finish the work to reduce slow zones on the Blue Line. In order to get the money, the CTA will do "short-term bonding, borrowing against future federal capital funding that the agency anticipates receiving from Washington." Man. We are in some trouble.

"Untitled" by Scott M.