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Mr Downtown Apr 4, 2007 9:02 PM

Did he explain why the City of Chicago is unable to increase its funding of CTA beyond $3 million a year?

VivaLFuego Apr 5, 2007 12:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 2743119)
Did he explain why the City of Chicago is unable to increase its funding of CTA beyond $3 million a year?

Don't forget the 1 subway station per year that CDOT renovates too! It's great how the city really prioritizes getting it's downtown subway and L stations in good shape for tourists and residents/workers.

Oh, wait. And how much is that Loop TIF generating, again?

Also funny how he's saying the state needs to come up with more transit money, but also don't think about logical things to fund it, like a property tax.

All that said, Illinois's tax structure is so out of whack, and the nature of the creation of RTA almost dictates, that the wider problem indeed needs to be solved at the state level.

pyropius Apr 5, 2007 2:44 AM

So realistically what are the chances of massive service cuts / fare increases / total funding meltdown within the next year?

honte Apr 5, 2007 2:50 AM

One would think that a mayor so keen on being the "Greenest city in America" would shut up about the green roofs and fake bike paths and actually get seriously involved in the transit situation.

Mr Downtown Apr 5, 2007 3:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pyropius (Post 2743951)
So realistically what are the chances of massive service cuts / fare increases / total funding meltdown within the next year?

The spring legislative session will rock along with lots of posturing from everyone, but no actual legislation passed. CTA will talk about impending doom and even prepare a system map showing massive service cuts. The Sun-Times and RedEye will compete to see who can use the word Armageddon first to describe the impending situation for North Side commuters, with the Tribune tagging along behind trying to repeat unfamiliar words like rapid transit and farecard.

Sometime in the wee hours of July 1 (clocks in the General Assembly unplugged since 11.45 the night before) a three-way deal will land on legislators' desks, Emil Jones will hold his thumb up indicating they should vote "aye," and Illinois will magically have a new gross receipts tax, some shell-game scheme involving delayed pension funding, a new land-based casino or three, and some scattered downstate and suburban highway projects. Oh, and $150 million for the CTA.

Taft Apr 5, 2007 3:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 2745010)
The spring legislative session will rock along with lots of posturing from everyone, but no actual legislation passed. CTA will talk about impending doom and even prepare a system map showing massive service cuts. The Sun-Times and RedEye will compete to see who can use the word Armageddon first to describe the impending situation for North Side commuters, with the Tribune tagging along behind trying to repeat unfamiliar words like rapid transit and farecard.

Sometime in the wee hours of July 1 (clocks in the General Assembly unplugged since 11.45 the night before) a three-way deal will land on legislators' desks, Emil Jones will hold his thumb up indicating they should vote "aye," and Illinois will magically have a new gross receipts tax, some shell-game scheme involving delayed pension funding, a new land-based casino or three, and some scattered downstate and suburban highway projects. Oh, and $150 million for the CTA.

Ha. Classic post.

And unfortunately, it is likely to be chillingly accurate.

Taft

MayorOfChicago Apr 5, 2007 4:38 PM

^ Most definitely.

They have to do something this spring or the whole system will fall apart along with the service cuts. The business community can't let that happen though, especially not in the loop. As much as they try and ignore it, the power that be will have to come rolling their eyes and bail out the CTA again.

Hopefully this year we can actually change the fundamentals, instead of just throwing money at the CTA and then running away until the world ends again in another year or two.

Kngkyle Apr 6, 2007 2:18 AM

Should replace CTA with Disney. Let them run the mass transit system. Just look at how efficient and great the transit system at Walt Disney World is. Monorail, Buses, Ferries, multiple railways at the parks. Yep yep. It's the solution to all the problems.

ardecila Apr 6, 2007 2:31 AM

Sadly, Kyle, it's true.... Disney buses rock, although they didn't send enough to cover all the people at my resort... oh well.

BorisMolotov Apr 6, 2007 2:39 AM

Realistically, could they do that? Given enough funding, would Disney accept an offer like that? Of course, then we'd have Disney thigns up the wazoo. But seriously, would anyone buy the CTA and offer to fix it up?

MayorOfChicago Apr 6, 2007 2:19 PM

^ I'll buy it for $25K.

The ride was a breeze today! I guess that's what happens when 1/2 the downtown workers take the day off for that one religious holiday this Sunday.

I also got on a #11 bus and it had seats on it I'd never seen before. they were still the blue cloth ones, but each seat was separate, not like the double bench like seats on the rest of the busses/trains. When did those come out? I saw another one on Diversey later that night.

Mr Downtown Apr 6, 2007 4:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BorisMolotov (Post 2746701)
would anyone buy the CTA and offer to fix it up?

Oh sure. If you give a big company enough money up front, they will skim off a nice profit, hire a nonunion workforce, and neglect the basic maintenance until public pressure forces the government to take it over again. Witness the privatization of British Rail.

I don't know that Disney sees public transit as their core competency, but there are plenty of companies (Halliburton, anyone?) that will give it a try if the money is good enough.

Seriously, a number of systems contract out their bus operations on a contract or cost-plus basis. But the only real cost savings turn out to come from shedding unionized drivers (along with their work rules and benefits). If--for political reasons--that's taken off the table beforehand, the savings dwindle to almost nothing. And the coherency of the system often suffers when broken up among different operators, as proven repeatedly in Britain and Australia over the last 15 years.

Marcu Apr 9, 2007 7:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 2747719)
Oh sure. If you give a big company enough money up front, they will skim off a nice profit, hire a nonunion workforce, and neglect the basic maintenance until public pressure forces the government to take it over again. Witness the privatization of British Rail.


The best systems in the world are public-private partnerships, including Hong Kong and Singapore which are both much better than Chicago or anything in the US for that matter.

Anything privatized by the city remains unionized (which is probably a bad thing to begin with). The maintenance stuff is all worked out before bidding ever takes place with specific requirements in place. The profit usually comes from a segnificant increase in efficiency. A private company can usually provide the same service as the government with a 10-20% decrease in cost of operations within 1 year, as seen in Sao Paulo Brazil's new subway line.

VivaLFuego Apr 9, 2007 2:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 2753194)
The best systems in the world are public-private partnerships, including Hong Kong and Singapore which are both much better than Chicago or anything in the US for that matter.

Anything privatized by the city remains unionized (which is probably a bad thing to begin with). The maintenance stuff is all worked out before bidding ever takes place with specific requirements in place. The profit usually comes from a segnificant increase in efficiency. A private company can usually provide the same service as the government with a 10-20% decrease in cost of operations within 1 year, as seen in Sao Paulo Brazil's new subway line.

I'm not sure it's safe to make comparisons to public-private partnerships in other countries, due to the vast differences in terms of government and culture. Are there (m)any examples of successful transportation public-private partnerships for a capital-intensive and politically-sensitive operations** in this country?


** By this I mean, it would be increase efficiency to slash bus service and shut down rail lines that run through poor neighborhoods, but that's simply not going to happen.

Marcu Apr 9, 2007 3:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 2753488)

** By this I mean, it would be increase efficiency to slash bus service and shut down rail lines that run through poor neighborhoods, but that's simply not going to happen.

Not necessarily. The city can put in certain requirements, such as "you must run buses on the following routes the following times..." The city can also fully fund these "less profitable" routes, or subsidize them more so than the "more profitable" routes. Even with this in mind, there are some bus routes in this city that are mostly unnecessary and are only there because of a powerful politician somewhere. A public-private partnership can help eliminate redundancy in the system that a government-run program would otherwise be incapable of doing simply due to political pressure. I'm not sure we should be taking a zero-tolerance view on service cuts.

Quote:

Are there (m)any examples of successful transportation public-private partnerships for a capital-intensive and politically-sensitive operations** in this country?

There are quite a few. Almost everything the goverment does is, in fact, a public-private partnership ranging from military contracts (a partnership with lockheed, boeing, etc...) to social security administration (lockheed handles earning verficiation, system support, etc). So we're really only talking about where you draw the line and choose to call something "private". Nothing in the US is really completely public.

Metra is fundumentally different than the CTA but we can't ignore its much higher satisfaction rate and overall better state. While it doesn't have to run as many routes through "less profitable areas", it really just comes down to government's lack of whillingness to subsidize those areas and subsidize more trains. These problems can be resolved with the CTA.

One of the best parts of involving a private party is govt can displace some of the financial risks associated with a large capital program while allowing it to focus on other services, such as healthcare, schools, etc. At this point, however, I'm not sure anyone will be whilling to take the CTA as a whole at a payout that makes it worth while for the city. If a private party is brought in, it would be be done one line or even a few stops at a time on a pilot program basis and would be coupled with an infusion of cash to fix infrustracture.

Mr Downtown Apr 9, 2007 5:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 2753581)
there are some bus routes in this city that are mostly unnecessary and are only there because of a powerful politician somewhere

Please tell us which ones are unnecessary. I'd also be interested in the criteria you use (riders/day, peak riders/hour, half-mile service standard, farebox recovery ratio) to make this determination.

Chicago Shawn Apr 9, 2007 5:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 2753581)
Metra is fundumentally different than the CTA but we can't ignore its much higher satisfaction rate and overall better state. While it doesn't have to run as many routes through "less profitable areas", it really just comes down to government's lack of whillingness to subsidize those areas and subsidize more trains. These problems can be resolved with the CTA.

One of the best parts of involving a private party is govt can displace some of the financial risks associated with a large capital program while allowing it to focus on other services, such as healthcare, schools, etc. At this point, however, I'm not sure anyone will be whilling to take the CTA as a whole at a payout that makes it worth while for the city. If a private party is brought in, it would be be done one line or even a few stops at a time on a pilot program basis and would be coupled with an infusion of cash to fix infrustracture.

Metra has the luxury of not owning any of its infrastructure. It runs well because that is really all they have to worry about, keeping the trains on time. The rails, ties and ballast are all taken care of by private railroads and many of the stations and park n' ride lots are largely built and managed by the municipalities. Vastly different than the CTA, which has to pay and care for everything and seek out federal grants through a very lengthy process for major repairs and renovations. I highly doubt any company would offer to purchase any part of the original system that has not already been rebuilt such as the green or pink lines, which really would do nothing to help the state of the overall system.

BorisMolotov Apr 9, 2007 6:31 PM

Well don't you think having numerous smaller companies working on manageable portions of track (as long as they are in sync with each other) would work well. If Metra (sort of) does this, and still as a whole operates smoothly, don't you think the CTA could do it as well?

Mr Downtown Apr 9, 2007 6:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 2753890)
Metra has the luxury of not owning any of its infrastructure. . . . The rails, ties and ballast are all taken care of by private railroads

That will come as a surprise to the Metra workers on the Rock Island, Milwaukee, Heritage, and Electric Divisions.

Only UP, BNSF, North Central, and SouthWest are purchase-of-service or trackage rights. The other lines are owned and maintained by Northeast Illinois Rail Corporation, which does business as Metra.

VivaLFuego Apr 9, 2007 7:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 2753970)
That will come as a surprise to the Metra workers on the Rock Island, Milwaukee, Heritage, and Electric Divisions.

Only UP, BNSF, North Central, and SouthWest are purchase-of-service or trackage rights. The other lines are owned and maintained by Northeast Illinois Rail Corporation, which does business as Metra.

It's also worth noting that Metra owns, operates and maintains other major capital assets like rolling stock, yards, and shops.

Quote:

Not necessarily. The city can put in certain requirements, such as "you must run buses on the following routes the following times..." The city can also fully fund these "less profitable" routes, or subsidize them more so than the "more profitable" routes. Even with this in mind, there are some bus routes in this city that are mostly unnecessary and are only there because of a powerful politician somewhere. A public-private partnership can help eliminate redundancy in the system that a government-run program would otherwise be incapable of doing simply due to political pressure. I'm not sure we should be taking a zero-tolerance view on service cuts.
Since when has an oversight organization with zero responsibility ever funded something they mandate? Remember the federal government with paratransit?

It's more like, representatives of those poor areas are key votes in Springfield in terms of anything pro-transit getting passed, so if they say service stays (think: Green Line, Cermak branch, etc.), then service stays.

Marcu, I think your problem (I'm being somewhat fecetious) is that you're trying to come up with rational, fact-based solutions, when rationality and facts on the ground are only a minor input into the huge political equation that actually leads to anything happening in the public transit world.

Quote:

There are quite a few. Almost everything the goverment does is, in fact, a public-private partnership ranging from military contracts (a partnership with lockheed, boeing, etc...) to social security administration (lockheed handles earning verficiation, system support, etc). So we're really only talking about where you draw the line and choose to call something "private". Nothing in the US is really completely public.
By this logic, CTA is largely a public-private partnership, since many of these administration functions are contracted out...I think you're copping out of my question. Has there ever been a large scale privatization of a major transportation operation in this country, and if so, what was it and is it relavent, and if not, why not?


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