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Details Of State-RTA Deal Revealed

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Nov 12, 2009 3:00PM

2009_11_11_CTAsad.jpg We mentioned yesterday morning the deal struck between the RTA and the state of Illinois which would provide enough funding to prevent a fare hike at the CTA for the next two years but wouldn't prevent the $90 million in service cuts originally proposed by the CTA. At a press conference yesterday, we got some of the details of the deal. Well, "deal" is a loose term as you'll see. The move isn't so much eliminating the CTA's debt as it is slightly reducing and really prolonging it. The Tribune breaks down the deal like so:

The RTA would borrow $166 million the next two years and funnel it to the CTA to keep buses and trains running. The state will make the loan payments for two years at a total cost of $15.3 million. After that, it's likely the RTA would be responsible for paying about $10 million a year for 28 years.

So while this does avert a fare hike through 2011, it's another example of pushing the problem down the road a bit. The current budget hole - pegged by some to be as high as $300 million - didn't happen overnight. And there's still the matter of those service cuts. There will be fewer buses on 110 of the CTA's 150 141 routes (nine express routes will be axed) and 41 routes will have shorter times they're in service [PDF], with the cuts ranging from 10 minutes to four hours (the #56 Milwaukee Ave bus, which would cut it's end service time back from 1:50 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.). And that's not even taking into consideration the cutbacks on Pace service, either.

So what happens in 2011 when the CTA still has a budget hole? Yep, fare hike. While we're saved the $3/ride fare, the new agreement still seems to be the old analogy of putting a band-aid on a gaping head wound. Admittedly, we don't have a solution, but something tells us that in spite of Gov. Quinn's words - "The resources of our public transportation system have been limited, and as a result we don't just look the other way. We find ways, prudent ways to help the system maintain its stability and move forward."- we're just delaying the inevitable.

Update: The CTA board has officially approved the budget.