CTA cuts lead to crowded trains, buses during rush

February 9, 2010 4:38:59 AM PST
The Chicago Transit Authority's service cuts are now in effect, which means more people are waiting longer for fewer buses and trains. Buses and trains were crowded Monday and are expected to stay that way- especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours- due to the cuts. But, according to CTA officials, the first weekday since the service cuts came and went without a major meltdown.

"Everything we predicted terms of being able to move people to and fro to work, we're comfortable we've been able to address this and gearing up for the evening rush hour and preparing for the snow tomorrow," said CTA President Richard Rodriguez who spent the day monitoring screens of bus stops and train stations across the city.

More than 60 students at Lindbloom High School were late- and they blamed the CTA.

"Students were saying, 'This shouldn't count. I waited at the Red... and couldn't get on the first bus that came and had to wait for the second,'" said Alan Mather, principal of Lindbloom High School. "There's another student that said she waited a half hour at Ashland and 61st."

All the trains except the Yellow Line and 119 bus routes are on a reduced-service schedule. Nine express bus routes have been eliminated altogether. The CTA said the cuts- which include 1,100 layoffs- are needed to fill a $95 million budget gap. Click here to see the complete list of service cuts

Many midday passenger said they didn't notice a difference in service or they planned for the changes.

"I knew when the bus was going to come because I looked up CTA bus tracker and it was the same time that it normally came. I didn't have any problem," said Mary Clancy, CTA rider.

"I just happened to come out at that time. And I thank God for that because I hate to wait for a bus," said Algee Ratliff.

However, there were some riders with lingering resentments after the morning commute.

"When the trains go 3-4 minutes late, I go from the train to the bus and I take and express bus it gives me about 15 more minutes travel time," said Derek Kolakowski, CTA rider.

"It was like you had to get off to let people get on it was just awful this is ridiculous my commute to the train was horrible as well," said Angela Hurst, CTA rider.

CTA and union leaders may meet later this week in an effort to restore some service. The CTA wants its transit union to give up some of the built-in raises in their contracts. But union officials said more CTA managers need to take salary cuts.

"We have to protect the base of the contract and that's what I'm sworn to do," said Darrell Jefferson, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241.

"We look forward to continuing our discussions with them this week. We want nothing more than to be able to save jobs and restore service," said Richard Rodriguez, CTA president.