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Jaroslaw Oct 31, 2007 7:35 PM

Very well-said, Viva. Cut some of the more obvious routes, especially on the south-southwest side, and the rest can almost pay for itself. But given that given that minority interests (race and handicap) couldn't care less for the city's larger interest, this is probably impossible. For example, it's shocking that "disabled activists" are still clamoring for more money, even as the huge extra costs associated with catering to them (the numbers for paratransit have been covered here before, we're talking hundreds of millions a year) are destroying the system even now. When is a serious politician going to take this problem head-on?

VivaLFuego Oct 31, 2007 7:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 3137921)
Well it's 75k/yr + pension contributions + healthcare + very high levels of workers comp collection adding up to about 125k/yr. So around 400 "hacks" adds up to 50 million dollars. Would you be willing to argue there's less than 400 hacks at the county, city, and state level? Stroger alone gets 1000 patronage positions to fill. And this doesn't even include contracts, outside consultants, lawsuits stemming form illegal hiring practices, etc. It's more than just a drop in the bucket. I'd be very surprised if the total cost is less than $400 million/yr.

I'm talking about CTA, not the County. CTA has less than 1000 office-type jobs, so I suspect the number of "patronage hacks" is much less than 400. Even if someone were hired because they knew the right people, that says nothing about their qualifications for the job (poor Robert Degnan is always trotted out as an example of clout at the CTA, but no one ever seems to ask if he's 1) qualified or 2) does a good job. Frankly I don't know, but it seems like the most important question, not who his brother is allegedly friends with). Nepotism/cronyism is only a bad thing if the people being hired are 1) completely incompetent or unqualified for the job and/or 2) the job shouldn't exist in the first place.

So let's say, for the sake of argument (totally baseless suggestions), that there are 20 unqualified hacks contributing nothing on the CTA payroll. That's still only $2.5 million/year. The deficits being discussed are in the hundreds of millions.

In terms of contracts/consultants, at least for CTA and City that's all public record, the procurement/bidding documents and the actual executed contract. Bidders have to declare the names and percent ownership of every owner in the company. City workers and more importantly, council members voting to approve contracts recuse themselves if there are any connections between them and an owner in the company getting awarded the contract. So if there's improprietary in contract awards, people tend to find out about it.

Marcu Oct 31, 2007 8:27 PM

^ But it's not about the CTA. It's about the overall peception of city, county, and state government. No one wants to give any of these organizations any more money because of the perception of corruption. The CTA, whether rightfully or not, is one of the "victims" of this perception.

VivaLFuego Oct 31, 2007 10:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jaroslaw (Post 3137993)
Very well-said, Viva. Cut some of the more obvious routes, especially on the south-southwest side, and the rest can almost pay for itself. But given that given that minority interests (race and handicap) couldn't care less for the city's larger interest, this is probably impossible. For example, it's shocking that "disabled activists" are still clamoring for more money, even as the huge extra costs associated with catering to them (the numbers for paratransit have been covered here before, we're talking hundreds of millions a year) are destroying the system even now. When is a serious politician going to take this problem head-on?

I'm glad other peope are aware of this boondoggle. The old systems like the CTA (and the T in Boston, SEPTA and NYCTA as well) should have been grandfathered in under the 1990 ADA guidelines, with local transit for people with disabilities provided by an accessible bus network (CTA has been at 100% accessibility on bus for several years), and demand-response vanpooling. This is how it is done in many cities in Europe and Canada, where the metro systems are scarcely handicap-accessible but handicapped people can still get around by other means of public transport.

In addition to the absurd capital cost (e.g. doubling or tripling the cost of station renovations) relative to the number of handicapped riders using the rail system, handicapped passengers also cause significant delays when operators have to leave the train, go the platform storage box to retrieve and place the gap-filler for boarding and alighting. This process can add 1-3 minutes for both boarding and alighting, which quickly adds up to destroy a semblence of adherence to a scheduled headway.

And what's all the more crazy is that Chicago's gridded streets, with all major arterials (all mile streets and almost every half mile streets) served by frequent bus service, has a handicapped-accessible transit network that connects any 2 locations with between 1-2 transfers. So why double the capital cost for rail stations?

Of course talking about these things is politically incorrect, so no politician does it. I'm all for funding local paratransit service and for mandating buses that have handicap lifts/ramps (since bus "facilities" are just streets and curbs, not grade-seperated multi-level stations, and thus the capital cost is not applicable to the transit agency), but I find the justification for retrofitting handicap accessibility of old rail facilties to be quite weak. Yet another incredibly expensive but unfunded federal mandate.

Abner Oct 31, 2007 10:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 3137348)
Umm. I'm not sure that warrants a response. But I can say the Soviet Union was not in involved in any wars when it fell.

This is completely unrelated, but strictly for the record: The Soviet Union fought a war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989.

Chicago3rd Oct 31, 2007 10:59 PM

Well two districts in Chicago need to have public transportation shut off completely next monday.

Emile Jone's District
Rob Bagofdogpoop's neighborhood

Anyone else think they would like to peacefully meet next week at the Gov's neighborhood if there are cuts? It would be so cool to have several thousand working class people protesting outside his home.

Attrill Nov 1, 2007 3:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3137596)
The Feds don't provide subsidy for transit operations in big cities, but rather only provide funds for expansion and asset maintenance. The maintenance funds are largely distributed on a formula that is based on regional/metropolitan population.

All of this combines to put Chicago transit operations in a particularly precarious financial position because of their size relative to the subsidoes they're entitled to. Put a simple way, compare our transit capital assets to Atlanta's. We're maybe what, 50% larger than them, but our transit network is many times larger. The formula funds from the Feds are quite simply inadequate to maintain CTA's assets; the system is to big relative to those funds. So the deficiency in capital dollars is very clear....

Exactly. I also agree with all the later posts about the ADA and the impact it has had on public transit in Chicago.

My biggest fear is that what we'll see coming out of the state legislature at the end of this week will be another stop-gap measure. RTA funding needs to be rethought on a basic level, and if Huberman actually enacts one of the many "doomsday" plans we've been presented with in the last few years more power to him. One of Kruesi's biggest problems was that he created the doomsday approach to getting funding, but never enacted any of his plans no matter what the funding situation was.

I do place far more blame with the state than with Daley (and I'm not a Daley apologist, just mention TIFs and I'm calling for impeaching Daley). In this case it is a regional problem that needs to be solved at the state level, and our state government is completely messed up. Everyone in the state government agrees that the CTA needs more money, but they are fighting like children over how it should be done - Blago wants casinos, Madigan wants an increase int the RTA retail tax, hell, the Republican minority leader wants to increase gas taxes and split them between the CTA and road construction. Daley has doen the right thing by replacing Kreusi and there is statewide support (politically) for giving aditional funding to the CTA. At this point it has been reduced to moronic fights about where the new money will come from. Not a small point, but as long as Illinois state legislators keep acting the way the do it will seem like a small point.

Haworthia Nov 1, 2007 9:28 PM

So, a little propaganda. I think most on this forum from the Chicago area do not want to see a CTA doomsday situation happen. In addition, Metra will be taking similar drastic action in the beginning of 2008.

I think we need significant investment in both of these services, but it won't happen unless enough people raise hell. :hell: :whip: I encourage anyone from the area, particularly suburbanites who like mass transit to visit this site:
http://www.savechicagolandtransit.com/actnow.asp

I just called the governors office and both my state house and state senate reps. It took less than five minutes to fuss at their support staff. I was not put on hold; I talked to someone right away. It was easy. Please do something.

Mr Downtown Nov 1, 2007 11:08 PM

I'm curious what effect you expect from fussing at support staff of utterly powerless legislators.

Maybe we could get the governor's daily Midway-Springfield roundtrip given a CTA route number and put it on the threatened list.

ardecila Nov 2, 2007 12:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 3138426)
Well two districts in Chicago need to have public transportation shut off completely next monday.

Emile Jone's District
Rob Bagofdogpoop's neighborhood

Albany Park? Haha - cut off service there, that's a good one... We're rebuilding the Brown Line for $400 million, not shutting it down.

In all honesty, the CTA REALLY needs to consider combining the Brown and Pink Lines. The Pink Line is a horribly inefficient use of valuable trains, providing service to neighborhoods that don't really use it very much. In terms of operating cost vs. revenues generated, the Brown Line ranks second only to the Red Line. Combining the two would create a line that is more cost-effective than the Yellow, Green, Purple, or Orange Lines.

VivaLFuego Nov 2, 2007 2:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3140873)
Albany Park? Haha - cut off service there, that's a good one... We're rebuilding the Brown Line for $400 million, not shutting it down.

In all honesty, the CTA REALLY needs to consider combining the Brown and Pink Lines. The Pink Line is a horribly inefficient use of valuable trains, providing service to neighborhoods that don't really use it very much. In terms of operating cost vs. revenues generated, the Brown Line ranks second only to the Red Line. Combining the two would create a line that is more cost-effective than the Yellow, Green, Purple, or Orange Lines.

How do you figure? It would even further increase the service on the Pink line to even more unjustified levels, adding even more car miles. That would make things worse. Depending on perspective, the Pink Line caused way too much service to be provided along both the Forest Park and Cermak branches, which were actually about appropriately served at half the O'hare headway. The idea (and Frank K was big on this) was to grow ridership at basically any cost in any way possible.

If any re-pairing should be done, it would probably be Lake Street and Midway which have similar riders per route mile. South Main and Cermak have comparable demand and should probably only be on 10 minute peak and 15 minute off-peak headways, so those could be paired up since they're both overserved in the current arrangement. Brown is in it's own class and basically needs the highest level of rush hour service of any route, at least until the 8-car expansion is complete.

the urban politician Nov 2, 2007 4:12 AM

^ Viva, do you anticipate that population growth along the westside or southside lines will ever occur to the point of justifying current levels of service, or is this completely a lost cause? I ask this because, despite current conditions, housing development does appear to be happening (albeit gradually)

VivaLFuego Nov 2, 2007 2:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3141236)
^ Viva, do you anticipate that population growth along the westside or southside lines will ever occur to the point of justifying current levels of service, or is this completely a lost cause? I ask this because, despite current conditions, housing development does appear to be happening (albeit gradually)

IMO, if those areas were fully built out at current zoning, they would at least come close to justifying rail transit service. With a couple exceptions (like Englewood, which is more or less a disaster, and Washington Park), the housing stock in many of these neighborhoods is intact and overall population in those areas will only increase perhaps 20% once the vacant land is re-developed. It's worth noting that in most cases, the "blight" is worst nearest the L tracks, so it will appear worst when viewing the neighborhood from that vantage point. I think this is predominantly resulting from where the concentrations of 1) 1960s riots and 2) 1970s-1990s gang activity were located.

Travel patterns are a significant factor here. Bus routes through some of these "bombed out" neighborhoods are actually some of the busiest bus routes in the system: the #3 King, the #20 Madison, #29 State, and the #63. Poorer neighborhoods will generally have people making local trips (i.e. short trips by bus), with less demand for a trip to service/professional jobs/activities downtown (rail). So even very dense and built-up low-income neighborhoods will have low rail ridership (think Pilsen, one of the densest parts of the city with only about 3700 daily boardings spread across 3 well-located and gorgeous new rail stations....that's about 1/4 of Fullerton's station entries alone).

So, it's a complicated answer, but I think a mix of re-development and moderate levels of gentrification (at least to the point where they are somewhat mixed-income neighborhoods) would lead those lines to have riderships levels that justify their existence. Of course, the City's land-use and zoning planning seem to be almost completely divorced of transit-related considerations, so if and when it happens it will be accidental or through (hopefully) natural market demand for rail access.

Eventually...Chicago Nov 2, 2007 5:44 PM

^^^nice post

The only thing i would add is this.

Discontinuing service anywhere seems to be a bad idea. How moronic was the destruction of the green line in woodlawn? The area is seeing some redevelopment and you know what they need now? Yep, more transit. It seems better to operate a line at a loss for awhile and hope for redevelopment than to get rid of it and lose it forever. It so hard to build new lines, lets hold onto what we have like grim death.

chitowngza Nov 2, 2007 6:32 PM

Governor offers $27 million in transit aid
 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,7886174.story

----------------------------------
Governor offers $27 million in transit aid

By Ray Long | Tribune staff reporter
12:34 PM CDT, November 2, 2007


SPRINGFIELD - Seeking to avert a transportation "Doomsday," Gov. Rod Blagojevich today authorized a direct grant to the Chicago Transit Authority and Pace for $27 million to maintain operations until the end of the year, according to a letter he sent to lawmakers today.

Transit officials said they were reviewing the offer, which would need federal approval, and had not yet called off scheduled service cuts and fare hikes set for Sunday.

Blagojevich made clear that the short-term funding is not a loan. "It is new money we are providing them to keep serving their riders," he wrote.

"In the meantime, the four legislative leaders and I will continue our negotiations to find a permanent, long-term solution," the letter said.

The governor said there is a "general consensus that a mass transit plan for the Chicagoland region should be passed in conjunction with a capital plan that would meet infrastructure needs across the state."

Blagojevich also maintained that the regional sales tax package backed by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) does not have the support to pass. The measure failed previously in the House, and Blagojevich consistently has threatened to veto it if it did pass both chambers.

"There is no question that we need to address the mass transit issue, and it needs to be done quickly," Blagojevich wrote.

Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston), an appropriations chairman, said the governor's action unfortunately represented "another stopgap measure that will do little to ease the legitimate fears of the many people who rely heavily on buses and trains every day."

Schoenberg, who is one of the Democratic senators supporting the sales tax package, said he deeply resents any Downstate colleagues who are withholding votes on the package in exchange for a massive construction plan.

The governor said he was moving forward with the stopgap measure because legislative leaders need more time to come up with a permanent funding solution for mass-transit agencies and a statewide construction plan for roads, bridges, schools and other projects.

"If the CTA and PACE accept the $27 million in short-term assistance I offered them today, transit riders in the Chicago area will be able to continue relying on the service they need while we pass a plan that will ultimately result in stronger and safer roads, schools and mass transit systems across Illinois," Blagojevich wrote.

The administration began briefing the transit boards this morning, according to a source close to the issues.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the CTA signaled that the transit agency is willing to accept Blagojevich's offer of a short-term bailout if the federal government will agree.

CTA Chairman Carole Brown said the governor had offered $21 million to her agency from a federal grant for capital expenditures.

But she said it was not yet clear if the federal government would allow money that is supposed to go for capital expenditures to be diverted to operating expenses.

She emphasized that the new money would not be another loan and would not put the CTA into "a deeper hole."

Brown appeared at a news conference that had been scheduled by Mayor Daley to discuss the transit crisis.

If the federal government does not approve the funds transfer, the CTA is prepared to go ahead with its "Doomsday" scenario, Brown said.

"People have a right to be pessimistic that the actions needed will happen," she said.

"I do want to reiterate that this is a temporary solution," Brown said. "Anything that will help ease the burden on our passengers for even a little longer is something we must seriously consider. However, we are not in a position to accept the proposal yet because we are still evaluating whether or not we can use those dollars."

Pace Executive Director T.J. Ross and deputy Rocky Donahue were among the transit officials conferring in Springfield this morning with the governor's office about the proposal.

As of noon, there was still no decision yet as to whether the offer would be acceptable, said Patrick Wilmot, Pace's spokesman.

Pace officials were "guarded but certainly hopeful," Wilmot said.

At its last meeting, the Pace board of directors gave Ross the authority to defer the service reductions scheduled to begin Sunday on 58 fixed bus and Metra feeder routes if the legislature acted at the last minute or if some other solution to the transit funding crisis was reached.

"Our first responsibility is to our passengers and they expect to know if they will have service on Nov. 4 or 5 or whenever," Wilmot said.

rlong@tribune.com


Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

chitowngza Nov 2, 2007 6:36 PM

CTA would postpone 'doomsday' hikes under deal
 
http://www.suntimes.com/news/transpo...110207.article


-----------------------------
CTA would postpone 'doomsday' hikes under deal

November 2, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
The CTA agreed today to postpone “doomsday” fare hikes and service cuts until Dec. 31, but only if the Federal Transportation Administration approves a $21 million infusion of capital dollars offered by Gov. Blagojevich.

CTA Board Chairwoman Carole Brown said the mass transit authority reluctantly agreed to accept the money, only after Mayor Daley was assured during a whirlwind of morning phone calls to the governor’s office and legislative leaders in Springfield that the money is a grant and not a loan.

“We couldn’t take another loan. This is a grant — transportation dollars for the state that would be applied to CTA, but it’s not expected that we would have to pay it back. So, it doesn’t create an additional hole for us…We were very concerned about having to take another loan,” Brown said.

Assured that another Band-Aid would not dig the CTA an even deeper hole, Brown agreed to accept the grant to stave off fare hikes and service cuts scheduled to take effect on Sunday. The $21 million would be enough to tide the system over until Dec. 31.
Pace would also receive $6 million in the deal.

But, there’s a catch. The FTA has to sign off on the deal.

“FTA policy is not to allow the amending of those [capital] grants. FTA is gonna have to adjust their policy to allow us to do that,” she said.

The CTA has said it will eliminate 39 bus routes, lay off more than 600 employees and raise fares by as much as $1 on Sunday without a long-term funding solution. Even deeper cuts and steeper fare hikes are scheduled for Jan. 1 without a state bailout.

Brown said CTA riders “have a right to be pessimistic” about the prospects for a long-term solution. And she acknowledged that the CTA could be right back where it started during the last week in December — counting down to doomsday — if legislative leaders and the governor have not reached an elusive agreement by then on how to fund both mass transit and a massive capital plan funded by casino gambling.

But, in spite of all that, it was another down-to-the-wire offer that the CTA simply could not refuse.

“Anything that would help ease the burden on our riders for even a little longer is something we must seriously consider,” she said.

“I feel for the students who may have to go to school in the dark and walk through unsafe neighborhoods to get there. And I feel for the city’s working people—the backbone of our workforce—who must commute both ways and will have to get up far earlier and get home far later.”

At a City Hall news conference flanked by a half-dozen aldermen whose wards depend on mass transit, Brown was asked what will change in Springfield between now and Dec. 31.

“That’s the $64 million question — or the $400 million question, if you will. What will change?” she said.

“While we appreciate that we will not have to unduly burden our riders in the short-term, the reason these aldermen are standing up here is because we know it impacts the entire city and that the entire city wants a long-term solution so that we don’t have to continue to talk about….how people are gonna get to work and school.”

Attrill Nov 2, 2007 7:39 PM

:previous:

From an upated version of the Trib article above:

"On the House floor, Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), who leads the House mass-transit committee, said she understands the governor's proposal would take "leftover" money available from a bond fund. Because bond funds are usually used for things like buying buses or construction projects, there are technical questions that must be reviewed and approved by federal officials before the money can be used by the transit agencies, she said."

Great. The CTA continues to be forced to cannibalize itself. This is how the CTA infrastructure got to the state it's in.

j korzeniowski Nov 2, 2007 7:46 PM

Update: House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) has announced that Regional Transportation Authority Chairman Jim Reilly has told him the authority has received federal approval to use $27 million to keep buses and trains running through year's end. Details to come.


Link, Chicago Tribune.


no worries, i have complete faith in these guys to right the ship in the next few weeks ...

*now, where's the emoticon with a face rolling his eyes so far back into his head his sockets begin to bleed?*

the urban politician Nov 2, 2007 7:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 3142340)
Great. The CTA continues to be forced to cannibalize itself. This is how the CTA infrastructure got to the state it's in.

^ Exactly.

You know, what's the point of having a DEMOCRAT contolled legislature and a DEMOCRATIC Governor when they can't even reach a consensus on anything! Aren't things supposed to breeze by when everybody is in the same Party?

What kind of bullshit Government is this?

j korzeniowski Nov 2, 2007 7:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3142375)
^ Exactly.

You know, what's the point of having a DEMOCRAT contolled legislature and a DEMOCRATIC Governor when they can't even reach a consensus on anything! Aren't things supposed to breeze by when everybody is in the same Party?

What kind of bullshit Government is this?

the best quote of the day goes to a democratic senator from quincy who said, and i paraphrase, "roads and bridges downstate are just as important as chicago's mass transit."

no.

edit for link: http://www.pantagraph.com/articles/2...6055696306.txt

i am "matthew" in the comments, for what it's worth. remember, that quote is from a dem. you would think public transit would be in their (our) wheelhouse.


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