CTA approves budget without fare hike

Service cuts, layoffs expected in 2010
November 12, 2009 (CHICAGO) But commuters who take dozens of bus routes will feel the pinch of service cuts as well as hundreds of workers who could lose their jobs.

The CTA could eliminate more than 1,000 jobs in an effort to cut costs.

Dozens of bus routes will either be eliminated or will have service reduced. Some train service will also be impacted.

In return for $15 million in state aid, there will be no fare increase for two years.

"There will be no fare increase in the 2010 budget that we're passing today," said Chicago Transit Board President Terry Peterson.

With that, the Chicago transit board approved its latest bailout funding scenario. The $1.27 billion budget for 2010 doesn't increase fares but calls for service cuts and layoffs.

"I was committed to voting no to a fare increase, so I appreciate not having to do that," said Jacquelyne Grimshaw, Chicago Transit Board member.

The budget approval comes just a day after Gov. Pat Quinn announced the state would help ensure a two-year rate freeze by agreeing to pay a $15 million price tag for the Regional Transportation Authority to borrow $166 million from its capital fund that will then funnel to the CTA for its operations expense.

On Thursday morning, a group of riders protested the proposed cost-cutting move.

"They got the money for the fares, didn't they? So why can't they get the money to save jobs and stop the service cuts?" said John Beacham, No CTA Cuts.org.

Under the current plan, train service would be cut by 9 percent and bus service double that, meaning the reduction of service hours on 41 bus routes like the number 8 Halsted route.

"We know there will be an impact. Those individuals will have the option of having someone pick them up or drop them off or walking the distance required to get to the alternate routes," said Richard Rodriguez, CTA president.

There's also the elimination of express bus service on nine routes including the number 3 King Drive.

"A lof of people go to work. A lof of people go to school...the bus is always crowded," said Al Davis, CTA bus rider.

The agency says close to 1,100 positions would also be slashed if their unions don't agree to more concessions and skip a wage increase among other things. The president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241 which represents CTA bus drivers says his operators have nothing left to give.

"The total package came out to a $159,000,510...round it off at $160 million. We just can't entertain that," said Darrell Jefferson, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241.

Agency officials say cta cutbacks would effect the frequency of train service, meaning riders may have to wait maybe twice as long. Hundred non-union jobs will also be cut and some workers will be expected to take furlough days.

The state will also give $17 million over the next two years to pace suburban bus system to cap fares at 3-dollars for paratransit services that help disabled riders.

Any service changes would go into effect in february of 2010.

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