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RTA Warns Of Fare Increases, Service Cuts Under Rauner's Budget Plan

By Margaret Paulson in News on Mar 19, 2015 4:20PM

Photo credit: Tripp Johnson

RTA officials warned the public yesterday that both service cuts and fare increases are likely if Gov. Bruce Rauner continues his plan to cut almost $170 million in state funding to Chicago-area transit programs.

The budget, which still needs to be approved by lawmakers on July 1, proposes a 45 percent cut in state funding to the CTA, which comes out to a $130.1 million cut annually. This amounts to 9 percent of the CTA’s operating expenses. Metra will face $20.8 million cut annually which is a whopping 60 percent of its state funding.

Also in the proposed cuts, Pace will be dealt a much smaller— but still vital— $8.5 million cut to its paratransit program, a program specifically for the disabled. We suspect that if it weren't for a federal mandate, we'd possibly see the whole program axed, seeing as a Rauner budget relies heavily on cutting services for the more marginalized.

For CTA riders, these cuts likely mean longer wait times and another round of fare increases. The Sun-Times reports that the cuts to CTA are equivalent to the revenue that would be generated by a 30 percent increase in fares— bumping the $2.25 rate up to $3, though transit authorities likely won’t take that route. Leanne Redden, Executive Director of the RTA, told the Tribune that the cuts could have far-reaching impact:

"These cuts could ultimately result in hundreds of thousands of drivers returning to our already heavily trafficked road and highway system and impact vital connections to jobs and education throughout the region.”

While many people of means can afford to take to the road or find other transit options, life will be made even more difficult for low-income individuals who don’t have access to other transit options.

While there are plenty of revenue generating options available like a graduated income tax, the closure of corporate tax loopholes or even Madigan's 'millionaire's tax,' Rauner refuses to hear any of them. Instead, hefty transit budget cuts are just another example of the lengths he will go to squeeze the poor in order to placate the rich, all under the guise of "shared pain."