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  #5861  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2009, 2:41 PM
GregBear24 GregBear24 is offline
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All I know is this: there are going to be a lot more cars on the roads now, because $3.00 takes away cost benefit for many riders. Then, in return, the cta will lose ridership and need another fare hike to cover the loss of ridership. If your vehicle gets 20 miles/gal, why would you continue riding cta if you did in the first place because it was cheaper? Plus, you don't deal with weather, crowded public spaces, and a somewhat unreliable cta performance. How did the U.S.A go from the most productive and efficient country in history to being perhaps the most inefficient nation on earth today? Why would I pay $3.00 to walk six blocks in crap weather and spend 35 minutes on the redline when it costs $2.00 in gas and 20 minutes to get to the same place? I don't care about the environment THAT much.
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  #5862  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2009, 3:08 PM
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Originally Posted by whyhuhwhy View Post
Which brings up a point I hear absolutely every bus rider complain about. Why on earth does the CTA have so many bus stops? There is literally a bus stop every BLOCK on most routes!

IMO this whole agency needs to be shaken up.
Believe me, every 10 years CTA planners propose to remove ~30% of bus stops citywide, to not only speed up service, but make it more reliable (due to more consistent and manageable dwell times) and cheaper to operate due to the lowered vehicle requirement. Fun tidbit: Out of around 12,000 bus stops in the CTA system, the busiest 10% account for 75% of ridership, and the top 20% account for 85% of ridership.

Then the proposal hits the reality of politics. Turns out people like having bus stops right in front of their origin and destination, and let their elected officials know it. Not only residents, but also businesses. But beyond politics, the negatives of frequent stops are simply outweighed by the positives from a user benefit standpoint, which becomes evident in practice. In fact, in a very recent example (still ongoing, actually), CTA experimentally changed the service ratios on the 80/X80, 55/X55, and 49/X49 routes to more heavily emphasize the limited-stop services. Ridership on all corridors plummeted.

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Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 View Post
Well, its not really protected by the clause you quoted. The clause you quoted essentially prohibits any individual state from acting in roles reserved for the federal government such as creating a currency or signing an international agreement.
Am I missing something?

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Originally Posted by Contracts Clause, again
No State shall ... pass any ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts...
Ok, the sanctity of contracts is a Common Law tradition, but in terms of actual laws on the books, it's a US Constitution issue, no? It's definitely not a State of Illinois issue.
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  #5863  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2009, 3:22 PM
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Originally Posted by GregBear24 View Post
Why would I pay $3.00 to walk six blocks in crap weather and spend 35 minutes on the redline when it costs $2.00 in gas and 20 minutes to get to the same place? I don't care about the environment THAT much.
It varies from person to person based on the car they drive, but the IRS reimbursement rate of around $0.50 per mile for driving is a pretty good approximation of the true cost of a marginal auto trip (i.e. it includes maintenance and depreciation caused by the added mileage, in addition to fuel use).

The elasticity of transit demand would be at the mid-range of trip lengths, for trips that are a few miles in length and have free/cheap parking at both ends. Even at $2 or $2.25, transit compares unfavorably with other options for very short trips, and that won't change.

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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
What about peak-period fare increases? It can be done with little to no additional capital cost, since it still only requires the farecard to be swiped once. They just need to have a clock in the farebox, which IIRC is already installed and shows up on the little LED screen.
Yes, the current fare system could implement peak/off-peak pricing without much effort/investment. Previous 'doomsday' scenarios over the past few years have indeed included peak/off-peak pricing. Such pricing schemes are, as suggested, generally a good way to raise revenue, but pursuing that avenue too far begins to lose sight of the mission/purpose behind public funding of transit in the first place. Remember, someone choosing to take transit during the peak/congested periods has much more social benefit in terms of reduced congestion and air pollution than in the off-peak, and peak surcharges discourages that. It's good business, but bad public policy. If one puts the social justice considerations of providing round-the-clock regional accessibility to all out of the picture for a moment, a big part of the justification for subsidizing transit is that each person who takes transit instead of driving in the peak benefits every driver on the roads. That's an easy sell across all political stripes, as compared to pitching transit as a welfare program.
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  #5864  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2009, 4:17 PM
ChicagoChicago ChicagoChicago is offline
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Thanks for all the feedback guys, although I was aware of general contractual obligations and their legal precedent. I was more so asking if it would require amending the state constitution in order to eliminate the pay raises.
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  #5865  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2009, 5:41 PM
emathias emathias is offline
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Originally Posted by GregBear24 View Post
... Why would I pay $3.00 to walk six blocks in crap weather and spend 35 minutes on the redline when it costs $2.00 in gas and 20 minutes to get to the same place? I don't care about the environment THAT much.
You're making the (faulty) assumptions that 1) everyone already has a car, and 2) everyone travels to places with abundant free or nearly-free parking. Some people who already have cars and only travel to strip malls and quiet neighborhoods may drive more, although I suspect that people who already have cars and travel mostly to those destinations are already driving there.
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  #5866  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2009, 6:58 PM
Nowhereman1280 Nowhereman1280 is offline
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I'm sick of all these entitlements and the general sense of entitlment in the American public. These union workers, as the general population is oh so aware of right now, have no right to a raise, or a pension, or lifetime employment, or even a job at all for that matter. They should have to earn those things. I think its time to make Illinois a right to work state and watch these union fools dissolve when they have to face competition from the 11% of Illinois who doesn't have a job and is willing to work just as hard for less. CTA (and the city of Chicago for that matter) has financial problems for many of the same reasons that GM and Chrysler have problems, too many unions with too much of a "these are our jobs and we have a right to plunder everyone elses bank account to maintain them" attitude. Tell me, what benefits do the 9 million citizens of Chicago gain from the CTA union? NONE.

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Originally Posted by VivaLFuego View Post
Am I missing something?
Maybe I am wrong, but I think that part of the clause (you bolded) is only to prevent states from trying to make a law that would completely upend or significantly alter the common law system. In any case, I was really just trying to add clarity to the origins of the contract in our system, not so much to argue against you.
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  #5867  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2009, 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 View Post
I'm sick of all these entitlements and the general sense of entitlment in the American public. These union workers, as the general population is oh so aware of right now, have no right to a raise, or a pension, or lifetime employment, or even a job at all for that matter. They should have to earn those things. I think its time to make Illinois a right to work state and watch these union fools dissolve when they have to face competition from the 11% of Illinois who doesn't have a job and is willing to work just as hard for less. CTA (and the city of Chicago for that matter) has financial problems for many of the same reasons that GM and Chrysler have problems, too many unions with too much of a "these are our jobs and we have a right to plunder everyone elses bank account to maintain them" attitude. Tell me, what benefits do the 9 million citizens of Chicago gain from the CTA union? NONE.
Haha - get real. I mean, I agree with you, but Illinois is one of the most union-friendly states in the US.

Honestly, organized labor was meant to give an advantage to unskilled workers, which is why it doesn't make sense for teachers and the like, who have advanced educations and don't have a right to unionize any more than I would as an architect or accountant or computer programmer.

My personal preference would be the passage of a law preventing government employees from unionizing. Low-level employees of private companies have almost no control over the management's decisions. Public employees have control over their bosses, since we live in a democracy, which means that the additional control imposed by unions creates a completely unfair inequality between public "management" and public "labor", which ends up screwing ALL of us over since WE pay their salaries.

CTA should really call out the transit unions for their role in the current budget crisis and try to curry public opinion in their favor. The fact that they don't do this indicates that they don't want the unions to air some dirty laundry. I liked Huberman - he had the balls to do that sort of thing and deal with the fallout. Rodriguez seems to have a softer approach.
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  #5868  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2009, 11:33 PM
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^^^
Unions have outlived their useful life. Period. It used to be that when you worked for the state or federal government, you were paid less on the front end with the understanding that your retirement was secure. Now people are paid very comparably with other professions and still have that silver parachute waiting for them when they retire at 28 years.

Seriously, something needs to be done. There's a MASSIVE underfunded pension obligation coming due because of the ridiculous deals that were struk some years ago, and the result will be the crippling of entire economies as the result of it. Something needs to be fixed.
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  #5869  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2009, 12:54 AM
emathias emathias is offline
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Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago View Post
^^^... It used to be that when you worked for the state or federal government, you were paid less on the front end with the understanding that your retirement was secure. Now people are paid very comparably with other professions and still have that silver parachute waiting for them when they retire at 28 years. ...
For deferred compensation (which pensions are a type of) to really make financial sense, the source of the future payments has to be a high-growth source, or at least grow faster than the the future value of money. In business, it can be perfectly reasonable to plan for growth that's faster than the future value of money. But for government to plan on their revenue stream growing faster than the future value of money basically means they're planning on raising taxes, or they're planning on just the pension portion growing faster, which means they'd have to reduce other services. Those are really your only two options with deferred compensation in the form of pension - raise taxes or reduce other services.
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  #5870  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2009, 2:43 AM
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Originally Posted by emathias View Post
For deferred compensation (which pensions are a type of) to really make financial sense, the source of the future payments has to be a high-growth source, or at least grow faster than the the future value of money. In business, it can be perfectly reasonable to plan for growth that's faster than the future value of money. But for government to plan on their revenue stream growing faster than the future value of money basically means they're planning on raising taxes, or they're planning on just the pension portion growing faster, which means they'd have to reduce other services. Those are really your only two options with deferred compensation in the form of pension - raise taxes or reduce other services.
There's this thing called investment... it tends to make money grow faster than it otherwise would without raising taxes or cutting services.
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  #5871  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2009, 2:47 AM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
CTA should really call out the transit unions for their role in the current budget crisis and try to curry public opinion in their favor. The fact that they don't do this indicates that they don't want the unions to air some dirty laundry. I liked Huberman - he had the balls to do that sort of thing and deal with the fallout. Rodriguez seems to have a softer approach.
Just playing devil's advocate here, but the flipside of the coin is... management declaring war on the unions would have two significant adverse impacts. Firstly, there would be little hope of cooperation between the two parties for a generation - every decision would end up going to binding arbitration. Secondly, morale among rank-and-file operating employees (90% of CTA's labor budget) would plummet - think of United Airlines in this regard. An unhappy and bitter operating labor force would likely not translate into stellar service quality and attitude.

I'm not advocating one position or another, just presenting reasoning for why one might play things cool, at least in public, when dealing with union labor.
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  #5872  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2009, 3:41 AM
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Binding arbitration isn't the worst thing in the world, depending on who picks the arbitrator. And as for service quality - it's not as if the drivers and motormen and station agents are the politest people around. Although there are isolated cases of kind and helpful CTA employees, I hear far more horror stories. Most modern corporations have developed structures to reward employees when they provide good service and reprimand them when they don't, but the byzantine and adversarial world of union labor prevents such modern innovations.

Lastly, there's a difference between "declaring war" and shifting the blame to where it belongs. Everyone is cutting back, there are pay cuts, furlough days, and outright layoffs everywhere - why should the union workers get raises? The CTA would be JUSTIFIED for any statements that blame unions for the budget crisis. If management is careful in the message it sends, making SURE to indicate that their anger is motivated by the poor economy and not a general anti-union sentiment, with maybe some vague references to improvements once the economy improves, then I don't think the union can afford to bear a grudge.

Organized labor thrives on the premise that management and labor have diametrically opposed goals, and that exploitation of workers is the natural result unless labor is empowered. Maybe it's just me, but this seems awfully outdated when a new generation of business thinking has made management aware of and concerned with the fair treatment and good morale of employees.
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  #5873  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2009, 2:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Binding arbitration isn't the worst thing in the world, depending on who picks the arbitrator.
Well, the last time CTA went to binding arbitration, the arbitrator awarded a contract that bankrupted the agency within 3 years and gave the unions everything. A few month's ago, the New York MTA went to binding arbitration, and the unions were awarded 11% in raises over the next 3 years, which management has vowed not to pay (which would be against the law) with the unions responding by gearing up for significant 'work action' (skirting the line with a strike, which would be illegal). So binding arbitration in a transit labor context doesn't seem to be batting at too high an average lately.
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  #5874  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2009, 3:29 PM
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Originally Posted by VivaLFuego View Post
Secondly, morale among rank-and-file operating employees (90% of CTA's labor budget) would plummet - think of United Airlines in this regard. An unhappy and bitter operating labor force would likely not translate into stellar service quality and attitude.
There are days I'd consider unhappy and bitter a signifigant upgrade from the lazy and uncaring treatment we are accustomed to.
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  #5875  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2009, 3:58 PM
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^oh its not that bad lol I ride it everyday
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  #5876  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2009, 4:09 PM
Nowhereman1280 Nowhereman1280 is offline
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Originally Posted by VivaLFuego View Post
Well, the last time CTA went to binding arbitration, the arbitrator awarded a contract that bankrupted the agency within 3 years and gave the unions everything. A few month's ago, the New York MTA went to binding arbitration, and the unions were awarded 11% in raises over the next 3 years, which management has vowed not to pay (which would be against the law) with the unions responding by gearing up for significant 'work action' (skirting the line with a strike, which would be illegal). So binding arbitration in a transit labor context doesn't seem to be batting at too high an average lately.
Which is exactly why the whole concept of labor unions as it applies to public sector employees is completely backwards and inefficient. I still say break the union by making Illinois a right-to-work state and let those who actually want to drive a bus and be friendly to their passengers and accept only market pay-raises, not straight-line 3.5% pay raises regardless of performance, have the jobs... Oh and also kill the teachers union while we're at it so CPS can have a chance to stop sucking within the next 20 years...
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  #5877  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2009, 5:07 PM
emathias emathias is offline
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Originally Posted by mwadswor View Post
There's this thing called investment... it tends to make money grow faster than it otherwise would without raising taxes or cutting services.
The future value of money is basically the result of the cumulative investment of an entire economy. The larger your pool of funds, the harder it is to beat that, and the more important the funds are, the smaller the tolerance for risk for the investor(s) and the lower the possible return is. It's critical to remember that hindsight is always 20/20 but foresight is never certain.

Besides, investment might be part of the answer for a pension that is fully funded from day one, but the State of Illinois pensions including the CTA pensions are NOT fully funded, which means at some point they will have to be paid for from general revenues.

Finally, the pensions are, as far as I know, fixed monthly benefit, based on what the people earn at retirement, but not fixed contribution and not fixed in length. That means that regardless of what investment returns are, the state still has to pay out a certain amount. Over the long term, in theory, that could even out. However, I have my doubts that it does even out in practice for most pensions. This is why most private companies have done away with pensions. If even private companies, who one would think understand the idea of investment better than most governments do, don't think pensions can work, then I really don't see why you're grasping at straws defending "investment" as the answer. "Investment" is a nice buzzword learned in Econ 101, but in the real world even experts don't always pick winning stocks, and there are plenty of losing investments that, even in good times, partially offset the winning ones. You can't point to the results of Goldman Sachs or 2009 Citadel as what government pensions should be doing any more than you can point to Ferrari when your Ford Escort fails to dazzle you with accelleration. "Planning" on stellar performance isn't a real plan.
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  #5878  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2009, 9:28 PM
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Motorists urged to stay off downtown expressways
October 14, 2009 3:50 PM

The public is being warned to avoid downtown Chicago expressways after pavement was damaged during construction work on the northbound Kennedy Expressway at Adams Street.

"We're advising people to stay off the downtown expressways for the next 24 hours," said Marisa Kollias, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Transportation. "This is a major crisis."

Workers were pumping concrete into an underground freight tunnel this morning when "pressure made the road erupt," according to an IDOT dispatcher.

Kollias said the northbound Kennedy was reduced this afternoon to one lane of traffic around the site of the construction mishap.

The damaged pavement is just north of where the Kennedy connects to the Dan Ryan and Eisenhower expressways.



Winners from the comment section:
"predictable": This wouldn't have happened IF EVERYONE ON THE ROAD HAD GUNS! The concrete would be too SCARED to collapse.

"Terry Kilpatrick": There must be a Nobel Prize in this for somebody. Nominations are now open.

"Sean Grady": Good thing those five guys are standing in a circle and talking. That looks like an effective means of road repair.
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  #5879  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2009, 9:50 PM
emathias emathias is offline
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
...
Workers were pumping concrete into an underground freight tunnel this morning when "pressure made the road erupt," according to an IDOT dispatcher.
...
I didn't know there were any freight tunnels that far west?
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  #5880  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2009, 1:28 AM
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Apparently...

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