Daley already talking to CTA Board candidates

September 23, 2009 (CHICAGO) Both women, Nos. 1 and 2 on the CTA Board resigning on the same day was by itself enough to raise eyebrows. But it happens at a pivotal time in the beleaguered transit agency's history. The mayor, who will soon embark on the most important trip of his political life, downplayed the significance of it all.

Just two days before he will lead the city's Olympic bid team to Copenhagen, Mayor Daley did not appear concerned that CTA Board Chairwoman Carole Brown and Vice Chair Susan Leonis had resigned. He said he had already made contact with possible replacements.

"I talked to four people and the four people have good financial backgrounds on different issues. So we listen to each one of them," said Mayor Daley.

If the city wins the 2016 Games, the mayor expects the incoming leader of the CTA Board to oversee the transit agency's expenditure of a windfall in federal dollars. The money would be used to upgrade a system deteriorated because of a lack of locally generated money for capital improvements.

CTA rider Maureen Bittner says the slow zones during her el rides are worsening.

"There's a lot of delays, a lot of stops, like in the morning at Roosevelt, sit there for five minutes or whatever," said Bittner.

Federal money for a Chicago Olympics would also benefit Metra and suburban transit agencies. Experts in the field say the first dollars should be used to rebuild what's already here.

"Your buses and trains, so they don't break down as much, increase the number of them so buses come more frequently, or trains come more frequently, So you have better service," said Robert Ginsberg, mass transit consultant.

The mayor says he did not request the resignations of Brown and Leonis. He was asked if next week's 2016 decision would affect his choice of their replacements.

"They're not coming in for the Olympics. They're coming in to deal with the day-to-day operations of the CTA," Mayor Daley said.

But the mayor will not announce his choice of a replacement for Brown until after he returns from Copenhagen. Leonis, according to the CTA web site, was appointed by the governor's office.

If Chicago wins the games, the new CTA Board could preside over a rebirth of public transportation in the city.

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