The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

CTA Wants Greener Buses, Money, God's Help

By Margaret Lyons in News on Dec 13, 2007 7:37PM


The CTA may be getting slightly greener (assuming it can get its hands on some green). Yes, our beleagured transit authority is looking to by hybrid buses for its fleet if Springfield works out a funding structure. The diesel/electric buses get an extra 2 miles per gallon, and they're priced to move because the King County Metro System in Seattle didn't exercise its option to by the articulated (read: accordion) buses, plus they'd save the CTA about $7 million a year in lower maintanence and fuel costs. Ron Huberman requested and received the board's approval to negotiate a lease for 150 new hybrid buses for $120 million.

Isn't the CTA cash-strapped? Huberman admits that the timing is a little awkward, what with the impending laying off of 2,400 people, increase in fares and the elimination of 81 bus routes, but he says the deal won't go through unless Springfield comes up with a solution, and that these sorts of bus-leasing contracts take time.

Luckily, the CTA board has a plan to negotiate with state legislative leaders. Wait, haha, no they don't: "Board member Charles Robinson said he's depending on divine intervention. 'He's all powerful and he can change the mind of stone hearted peoples,' he said." Great.

Oh, the hits just keep on coming. Union leaders have approved a one-day walk out.

The union's ultimate goal is to shut down all CTA, Metra and Pace operations to demonstrate the need for more transit funding and to restore balance to union pension funds and health care plans.

The "job action" isn't a strike, they say. Huberman says it's illegal, but we wish he'd endorse the walk off. (We know, we know, he can't.) But riders and CTA employees are on the same side here--the side that wants its leaders to get their heads out of their asses and lead already. If Chicago transit stopped for a day, what would happen? And would Springfield notice, care, or do anything?

Photo by Joseph P