CTA president proposes fare increases

October 12, 2009 4:32:48 PM PDT
If you ride the CTA, you could soon pay more. The transit agency is proposing fare hikes for next year. Some commuters could pay up to 75 cents more per ride, and the CTA is proposing service reductions, as well.

The CTA says blame it on the bad economy. The agency relies on some of its funding from sales and property taxes, and those are significantly down this year. So, CTA is not only asking riders and managers to sacrifice, they are asking its union employees to do so, as well.

It's another year with an even bigger budget shortfall for the CTA, which is $300 million in the hole, and that means more service cuts and fare increases.

If you ride the train, CTA President Richard Rodriguez says basic train fares would go from $2.25 to $3, express bus fares would go from $2.25 to $3 and basic bus fares would go from $2.25 to $2.50. With that increase, Rodriguez says the nation's second largest transit system would have among the highest fares in the country.

"I'm not working right now. So, I think it's too much money," one rider told ABC7 Chicago.

"I don't think I can afford this any more, if it keeps going up," said another.

CTA is required by law to balance its budget, and the agency's president, Richard Rodriguez, blames the recession for being so deep in the red.

"Had the economy not crashed, we would not be having this conversation," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez says a 30 percent decline in tax revenue, pension obligations and union contracts contribute to the huge shortfall. While he is asking non-union employees to take 12 furlough days, unpaid holidays and to forgo a raise for the third year in a row, Rodriguez says it is time for its union workforce to step up.

"With nearly 90 percent of the CTA's workforce unionized, we really need their participation to reduce our labor costs," Rodriguez said.

If unions don't offer concessions like furlough days and unpaid holidays, Rodriguez says more than 1,000 employees will be laid off.

The two unions representing the majority of CTA workers say, at this point, they are not about to give up anything.

"We've been stepping up for decades, and at this point, this membership doesn't want to step up," said Darrell Jefferson of ATU Local 241.

"We agreed to a contract three years ago. As far as I'm concerned, we have a contract. I'm willing to sit down and talk and see if we can work something out, but as far as concessions, we've given up quite a lot over the years," ATU Local 308's Robert Kelly said.


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